36 URNS by Sirpa Kähkönen wins the Finlandia Literature Prize!

We are so very happy to announce that 36 URNS: A History of Being Wrong by Sirpa Kähkönen has been awarded the Finlandia Literature Prize 2023! 
The prize, awarded to an outstanding work of fiction, is worth 30,000 euros.

Massive congrats, Sirpa Kähkönen and her Finnish publisher Siltala!

The winner this year was chosen by professor, dancer, and artist Jorma Uotinen, who praised 36 URNS saying:

“The work helped me to empathise with the life of another person. It touched me, causing an emotional avalanche. The impact of the book is comparable to a well-targeted blow to the chest. The book has not given me peace, I keep on stumbling upon my own emotional blockages.

The book is a controlled literature work, perceptive and insightful. Confesssion-like. The text is clear and precise.

The author has the skill to study life, to study another person in an understanding way, without resentment or bitterness. She digs deep into the roots of existence and finds a way to combine objective review with a subjective and psychologically loaded content.

The personal experience of the author grows into a universal reach,  and she finds something globally applicable about humans, hate, anger, lies, hope, dreams and their crumbling, death.

The world is not only what one can see. This brings forth a masterpiece, which is worth living for.”

– Jorma Uotinen, Finlandia Literature Prize 2023 Grand Juror

36 URNS is also nominated for the Savonia Literature Prize. In Finland, the title has sold 10 000 copies in Finland since its publication in August, and internationally, the title has already sold to Estonia and Hungary. Rights in other territories are still available for this stunning gem of a novel!

Once more our most heartfelt congratulations to Sirpa for the well-deserved win!

Download the materials for 36 URNS here!

36 uurnaa – Väärässä olemisen historia
Siltala, August 2023, 267 pp.
Rights sold:
FINLAND: Siltala (orig.)
ESTONIA: Koolibri
Reading materials:
English sample and synopsis
Finnish edition

About author

Sirpa Kähkönen

Sirpa Kähkönen was born to a family that had been harshly treated by the history of the 1900s. World War II and the Civil War preceding it had wounded her family members and marked them with heavy silence and unspoken words.

Mapping out that silence became Sirpa’s work. The first questions that arose were related to her closest circle: what had happened to her beloved grandparents? From her personal sphere the intellectual curiosity widened to touch upon the history of Finland and then the history of Europe, and finally, researching the fate of an individual during times of crisis.

Sirpa Kähkönen lives and works in Helsinki. She constructs her works upon research, using a wide array of archives, newspaper clippings, research material, and contemporary literature. Inspired by microhistorical research tradition, Sirpa writes about how mentalities are formed, and how the immaterial inheritance runs in family lines and in societies.

Sirpa Kähkönen’s historical novel begins where source information ends. It opens the gates to experiencing the past in a sensory way; the characters live out the story as physical, sensual beings.

Sirpa Kähkönen has published thirteen novels of which one (36 Urns: A History of Being Wrong) has won and four others have been nominated for the prestigious Finlandia prize and one has been nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize. She has also published three non-fiction titles, one of which was nominated for the Tieto-Finlandia prize for non-fiction literature. In 2022, Kähkönen received the Finnish Cultural Foundation's Grand Prize for significant achievements in culture. She has also written five stageplays.

Awards and nominations:

Kirjallisuuden valtionpalkinto 1992 - The State Literary Prize 1992

Savonia-palkinto 1999 - Savonia Prize 1999

Kuopion taiteilijaseuran kirjallisuuden tunnustuspalkinto 2003 - The Kuopio Artist Society's Literary Award 2003

Kiitos kirjasta -mitali 2008 - Thank You for the book medallion 2008

Savon Sanomien Savonmuan Hilima -titteli 2010

Otavan kirjasäätiön Veijo Meri -palkinto 2012 - Otava Literary Fund Veijo Meri Prize 2012

Pro-Finlandia -mitali 2015 - Pro Finlandia Medallion 2015

Suomi-palkinto 2016 - Suomi-Finland Prize 2016 from the Ministry of Education and Culture

Savonia-palkinto 2021 - Savonia Prize 2021

Suomen Kulttuurirahaston suurpalkinto - The Finnish Cultural Foundation's Grand Prize 2021

Finlandia-palkinto 2023 - Finlandia Prize 2023


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Sirpa Kähkönen

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