Pine Bark

Tommi Kinnunen

Original title: Kaarna

Author: Tommi Kinnunen

Published: 2024

Publisher: WSOY

Genre: Literary Fiction

Pages: 205

Reading material:

Finnish manuscript, English synopsis, English sample, German sample

A densely atmospheric and arrestingly written novel about women’s fates in times of war, the difficulty of giving up, and how the proximity of death can change a person

A person cannot return to being who they once were without knowing who they have been.

In 2001, three siblings - Martti and twin sisters Eeva and Marja - meet in a small village in Northern Finland. Their mother Laina, an old woman who has been through the Second World War, is dying and the children have gathered to arrange the funeral. Even though the siblings have always been on good terms, Martti has always felt aloof, the odd man out. All of them reminisce about their childhood, but Martti remembers things slightly differently than the sisters.

As the novel progresses, the readers are transported through the decades and through Laina’s story, culminating in the Soviet partisan attack during the summer of 1944 that irrevocably changed Laina’s life. She has refused to recall the events and, at the same time, has denied her children the opportunity of remembering and recovering. “One can only talk about men’s war, as the women’s war is soundless and forbidden.”

As his mother’s death grows nearer, Martti reaches out to connect with his siblings and attempts to fill in the gaps in the story, but is it already too late?

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About author

Tommi Kinnunen

Tommi Kinnunen (1973) was born in Kuusamo in northeastern Finland and currently lives in Turku, where he works as a teacher of Finnish language and literature. His works include novels, opera librettos, short stories, and a non-fiction title on the changes taking place in the Finnish school system.

Kinnunen’s novels give a voice to those whose stories have been kept untold. He made a stellar debut with Where Four Roads Meet (orig. Neljäntienristeys) which was nominated for the Finlandia Prize and won the Young Aleksis Prize in 2015. The following novels The Light Behind the Eyes (orig. Lopotti), The Glass River (orig. Pintti), and Defiance (orig. Ei kertonut katuvansa) have been both critical and commercial successes. His books have been translated into 20 languages.

During his spare time, Kinnunen likes to refurbish old buildings.


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