Finlandia 2023 winner 36 URNS by Sirpa Kähkönen nominated for the Runeberg Prize!

We are excited to announce that the winning title of the Finlandia Prize 202336 URNS: A History of Being Wrong by Sirpa Kähkönen has been nominated for the Runeberg Prize 2024! The prize, worth 20,000 euros, has been awarded since 1986 and previous winners include e.g. Katja Kettu, Sofi Oksanen, and Ulla-Lena Lundberg. The winner is announced on 5th of February.

Here is the Runeberg Prize jury’s motivation for the nomination:

“Sirpa Kähkönen writes more maturely and bravely than ever before. She writes candidly, without any shame. Kähkönen has succeeded in bringing the different time periods to life simultaneously: everything is moving, everything exists interlocked in time, place, and person.
In 36 Urns the archive materials, stories one has heard, memories, and even fake memories intertwine fluently. The language rings, rattles, reports, writes poetry, it sympathises with the misery and carries with it the history of the family.”
36 URNS is also nominated for the Savonia Prize 2023. Over 35,000 copies have been sold in Finland since the book’s publication in August this year and it is currently #3 on the Finnish bestseller charts for printed books. Rights have been sold to Estonia and Hungary and we have an offer for Swedish rights on the table.

Warm congrats to Sirpa Kähkönen and her Finnish publisher Siltala!

With the next application round for the FILI translation grants coming up in January 2024, now is the perfect time to acquire the rights for this outstanding novel!

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.

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


2023, Literary Fiction

36 Urns: A History of Being Wrong

Sirpa Kähkönen

2021, Literary Fiction

The Green Chamber

Sirpa Kähkönen