The Bystander

Rights sold:

FINLAND: Tammi (orig.)

SWEDEN: Wahlström & Widstrand

Original title: Sivuhenkilö

Author: Saara Turunen

Published: 2018

Publisher: Tammi

Genre: Literary Fiction

Pages: 233

Reading material

English sample & synopsis

 Swedish edition

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A witty and honest artist’s novel about a year in the life of a debut author.

The Bystander is a journey of one year in a life of its writer. When the narrator’s debut novel is published, she feels like everything has changed. Strangely enough no one else seems to notice this. Thus begins an intensive year of esteemed literary prizes, ambivalent reviews, strange interview questions and awkward marketing activities. All the while the narrator ponders the meaning of it all. Why are we here? What is behind the space? What if you are lonely? And its’s spring, and you had just written a book and everything was meant to be great, but people just had their partners and high-quality sofas, and ‘we gotta go’ they said? What if you were expecting something else, but there was just silence everywhere?

* * *

The Bystander is a sharp story of a woman with a looming fear of being invisible, need to achieve, relentless chase for being heard. In addition to pointing out the problems of the art criticism and literary world itself, the novel speaks about the loneliness and being a bystander in 21st century. It asks urgent questions about identity and family, but refuses to give any simple answers.

At the same time ironic and earnest, the novel burrows into the issues of existence, social norms and unconventional choices. The text glows in the depiction of everyday details: watering the house plants, riding a bike and cooking noodles. It shifts between fiction and reality, mixing shame and self-contemptuous humour with sharp narration.

Chillingly ironic, crunching depiction of the today’s world and the female position on it. Talentedly constructed artist novel with lean and precise sentences and an autobiographical voice that turns many times into essay-like narration.

The Bystander is Saara Turunen’s second novel. Her first, Love/Monster (2015), was awarded with a prestigious Helsingin Sanomat Literary prize.

Foreign covers

Saara Turunen

Saara Turunen is an internationally acclaimed award-winning author, playwright and director. She is known for her bold and direct style and much of her work examines the themes of identity and social norms. Her latest novel Irrational Things (Spring 2021) is a story of love, death and life between two countries. It has sold already over 15.000 copies.

Turunen has previously authored two highly acclaimed novels, Love/Monster 2015 and The Bystander 2018. Her debut novel Love/Monster won the Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize in 2015. In addition to her work as a novelist, Turunen is also known for her plays. They have been translated into 13 languages and performed all around the world. Turunen was awarded with the Finland Prize in 2016, with the City of Helsinki’s The Artist of the Year Award in 2018 and with Lea-Award in 2020, all high profile awards given in Finland.

Bibliography


Saara Turunen

Irrational Things

2021, Literary Fiction


Saara Turunen

The Bystander

2018, Literary Fiction


Saara Turunen

Love/Monster

2015, Literary Fiction


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