The Green Chamber

Sirpa Kähkönen

Original title: Vihreä sali

Author: Sirpa Kähkönen

Published: 2021

Publisher: Otava

Genre: Literary Fiction

Pages: 315

Reading material:

Finnish PDF, English synopsis and sample

In December 1964 Kuopio, in the eastern lake area of Finland, it’s a time of harsh, frosty days when the lake freezes in the grip of cold. As their parents are exhausted from the post-war world of reconstruction, three young people - Irene, Leo and Jaakko - are trying to find their way into a carefree reality and looking to solve the painful secrets of budding love and friendship.

In the tumultuous, revolutionary days of the early 1900s, Santeri and Linnea meet in the villa community of Terijoki on the coast of the Gulf of Finland. The Russian Revolution has plunged princes and princesses into poverty and decimated the grand villas, making the young couple set their only hopes on raising flowers and cherishing friendships. In 1964, Linnea and Santeri tend to their flower shop Paradise Lily like its own secret, living green soul.

At the heart of THE GREEN CHAMBER, as if in the deepest crevices of a tree, is the tale of Santeri’s trip to Leningrad. He has loathed the Bolsheviks ever since his youthful dreams were crushed by the Russian Revolution. At the start of 1964, however, something has broken within him, and he is ready to face the repercussions of this fractured relationship when he meets a young blonde girl. He follows her to Leningrad, though he’s sworn he’d never set foot in Leningrad before the Bolsheviks are expelled. This journey will become the most important one of his life.

THE GREEN CHAMBER is a depiction of the ferocious beauty of the North, frost, sand ridges on which people build their fading fantasies of paradise. THE GREEN CHAMBER is a symbolic story of the deep power of the forests that appear as a safe harbor, an enchantment, and a metaphysical escape for the people of this novel. It is a novel about wars and rebellions that cast human beings around like driftwood and, finally, it tells the story of why, even on the very last beach, the highest deed of a human being is the planting a tree.


”The presence of light, colors, and nature moves within the thoughts of this marvelously written piece. Even in the most dramatic of scenes, the text appears placid in an aesthetic way. Hence, the reader will experience the stormy points of emotions as an underwater gurgle of joy and the moaning crackle of ice. ‘The Green Room’ is a landscape of the mind and nature, combining literary text and a documentary, a visual wording of Destiny itself - Teppo Kulmala, Etelä-Suomen Sanomat, November 2021

”The Green Chamber’ demonstrates that hatred has a long shadow but love bears a stronger light.”- Mari Paalosalo-Jussinmäki, Eeva magazine, Culture, December 2021

In the center of The Green Chamber are three 17-year-old youths coming of age in a world where one must conceal their family’s shame and carry responsibility like an adult. [--] The narration of time, place, and ambiance are magnificent. Kähkönen’s already gorgeous language is at its pinnacle in The Green Chamber.

Savonia Prize Jury

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Rights sold:
FINLAND: Otava (orig.) ESTONIA: Koolibri


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

Sirpa Kähkönen

36 Urns: A History of Being Wrong

2021, Literary Fiction

Sirpa Kähkönen

The Green Chamber