The Black Mirror

Emma Puikkonen

Original title: Musta peili

Author: Emma Puikkonen

Published: 2021

Publisher: WSOY

Genre: Literary Fiction

Pages: 287

Reading material:

Finnish text

Swedish PDF

Three women, three epochs and three destinies

The Black Mirror is a magically beautiful novel about a world run by oil. And about the humankind who must take a look at the black looking glass.

When Ida Tarbell is a child, black gold is springing from the ground in her hometown of Rouseville in the 1860s. When Lotte Teer is a child in 1973, people gather around on a picnic on an Amsterdam highway. Astrid Fuglesang has always dreamed of oil rigs and lands on one in the year 2028.

For millions of years, black liquid has hibernated beneath the earth and the ocean. When it is awoken, humankind can no longer live without it. Ida, Lotte and Astrid are driven women whose fates are swayed by oil. Each of them takes control of it, in a way.

“Humans and oil are not separate entities. Fossil fuels are the invisible basis of the economy and society and, since the 19th century, we have been living in a period known as fossil capitalism. Oil and its derivatives have penetrated us as people and our lives. This is the starting point of Emma Puikkonen’s novel about oil – the black mirror of humanity. The magical beauty of this novel is that it bites into an enormous subject and forces the reader to think. Its black, shiny surface reflects themes eternal and current, such as oil’s relationship to nature and the environment, human courage and the role of women in different situations.”

- Nordic Council Literary Prize jury

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About author

Emma Puikkonen

Emma Puikkonen (b. 1974) is one of Finland’s foremost contemporary prose writers. Her works explore highly topical themes and phenomena, of which climate change has recently become the most important. She is a trained drama instructor who also teaches the literary arts and theatre.

Her work Eurooppalaiset unet (2016) was nominated for the Finlandia and Export Prizes, and an earlier novel, Lupaus (2019), was met with critical acclaim. Her novel Musta peili (2021) (“The Black Mirror”) was nominated for the Runeberg Prize and the 2023 Nordic Council Literature Prize.


2021, Literary Fiction

Emma Puikkonen

The Black Mirror