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 twelve novels of which three have been nominated for the prestigious Finlandia prize, one for the Tieto-Finlandia prize for non-fiction and one for the Nordic Council Literature Prize. In 2022, Kähkönen received the Finnish Cultural Foundation’s Grand Prize for significant achievements in culture.
Sirpa Kähkönen is the Chairman of The Union of Finnish Writers.
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