They Had It All

Juha Itkonen

Original title: Kaikki oli heidän

Author: Juha Itkonen

Published: 2021

Publisher: Otava

Genres: Literary Fiction, Commercial/Upmarket

Pages: 397

Reading material:

Finnish PDF, English sample and synopsis

It’s 2050, and the choices made in 2019 still echo in the changed world. Can one still learn how to understand, to atone, to forgive?

A melancholy, feverish novel about male ego and the end of the world, about people’s ability to love one another and their inability to keep hold of the happiness they have achieved.

Vilho’s father Ilmari, a forty-something theater director, is balancing successfully between the push-and-pull of career and family life, according to him. However, the tranquil peace of the wooden house is upset when Vilho’s widowed grandfather temporarily moves in with the four-member family. The tension between fathers and sons is palpable, and this sets off a chain of events that prove to be fateful for the entire family.

Thirty years later, in a wholly changed world, Vilho looks back at the lives lived in the early 2000s, the choices made back then, and the events of that fateful summer in an effort to understand his father. How do we become the people we are now? Who were the people who lived then? And did they have any clue how privileged their lives were?

Itkonen develops a balanced and fascinating story of men in three generations that succeeds in being timely yet timeless. The plot grips you, the language is pure satin, and the characters feel evocative.

- Etelä-Suomen Sanomat

Download reading materials

Rights sold:
FINLAND: Otava (orig.)


About author

Juha Itkonen

Juha Itkonen (b. 1975) is one of his generation’s most recognized authors in Finland. Itkonen has written eight novels, a collection of novellas, a children’s book, an epistolary novel together with Kjell Westö and several plays. In 2019, his works have been translated into Swedish, Norwegian, German, and Danish. His previous work Ihmettä kaikki (in English, “Everything Is A Miracle”, not translated) was nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize. Itkonen has won several Finnish literary prizes and earned two Finlandia Prize nominations. He lives in Helsinki’s Arabianranta together with his wife Maija Itkonen and four children.

Families, generations, and parenthood are regular themes in his novels, including in his newest work 'They Had It All' (Kaikki oli heidän, orig. Otava 2021) Itkonen loves music, both as a listener and a player, which shows in his books. The passing of time is an eternal mystery at the core of his writing – his novels tend to have a melancholy undertone, yet they are also filled with life, humor, and energy.


2021, Literary Fiction, Commercial/Upmarket

Juha Itkonen

They Had It All