Ladies, gentlemen and other lovely creatures: I’m glad to tell you that the literary magazine Lumooja has published my longest article so far in its issue 1/2015. And that is pure war against everyday.
“Totuus löytyy kurjuudesta” (The Truth Lies Within the Misery) is an overview of Finnish literature of the 2010s. Although some speculative/antirealist fiction has emerged in Finland during the first decades of the 21st century, they are still often ignored by the mainstream media as well as by the juries of literary prizes, and reduced to “entertainment” by the so-called serious intellectuals. Realism – a bizarre anomaly in literature from a wider perspective – is the sacred dogma of Finnish literature, synonymous of “serious”, “grown-up” and “sophisticated”.
The Finns have this weird belief that there is something important or meaningful in the life of an ordinary individual – just because it is true, it has to be interesting. That is why numerous Finnish writers are now telling stories from their own childhood or family, full of as-banal-as-possible details and often with a vibe of glorification of the miserable past. Our noble ancestors worked hard and were satisfied with what they had – unlike us, the children of the languid urban decadence.
Of course, this fetishizing of misery traces back to the 1800s when the Swedish-speaking elite wrote sentimentally about the people of the frosty swamps. But after that, there was a Finnish working-class writer whose impact to the norm of pure banality is clear: Väinö Linna. Having already written a piece about him and his most known novel (see The Most Hated Man in Finland), I don’t do it again now.
Now I go and practice some poetry-reciting for the Lumooja Club of tonight. Thank you.