Sirpa Kähkönen

© Dmitri Kotjuh

Sirpa Kähkönen (1964) is a Finnish writer and translator, and since last year, she has also been the Chair of the Union of Finnish Writers. She is best known for her historical novels. According to Kähkönen, her interest in the recent history of Finland was sparked by the past of her own family – this is why she mostly describes history from the grassroots level and looks at how the streams of history affect people’s personal lives. Several of Kähkönen’s novels are set in her native Kuopio, and the events are affected by the 1930s, the Winter War and the Continuation War. The Granite Man (Graniittimies, 2014) deals with a fascinating and dramatic phenomenon in Finnish recent history – it talks about young Finns who went to the Soviet Union in the 1920s to build a paradise on earth only to have their utopias shattered by the reality of the Stalinist regime. The novel is one of three works by Kähkönen nominated for the Finlandia Prize and it was also nominated for the Literary Prize of the Nordic Council of Ministers. Kähkönen has also used biographical aspects in her academic work; her 2010 book The Flames of Hate and Love: Finland of the 1930s as a Destiny (Vihan ja rakkauden liekit. Kohtalona 1930-luvun Suomi) talks about the life of the author’s grandfather as a forced labourer. Sirpa Kähkönen talks to writer and historian Tiit Aleksejev.

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