Finland

The Blood of Angels

"Another haunting novel of eco-speculation from Johanna Sinisalo, the award-winning author of Troll and a powerhouse of the Finnish science fiction and fantasy scene.

It is claimed Albert Einstein said that if bees disappear from the earth, mankind has four years left. When bee-vanishings of unprecedented scale hit the United States, Orvo, a Finnish beekeeper, knows all too well where it will lead. And when he sees the queen dead in his hives one day, it's clear the epidemic has spread to Europe, and the world is coming to an end. Orvo's special knowledge of bees just may enable him to glimpse a solution to catastrophe: he takes a desperate step onto a path where only he and the bees know the way but it propels him into conflict with his estranged, but much-loved son, a committed animal activist. A magical plunge into the myth of death and immortality, this is a tale of human blindness in the face of devastation—and the inevitable."

(A special thank you to book club member, Caity Greig for the suggestion.)

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Finnish Short Stories

A 238-page volume of 32 stories written by Finnish authors, "presenting a wide range of writing styles. 

These short stories cover the period from 1859 through modern times and include some of Finland's classic writers: Aleksis Kivi, Minna Canth, Juhani Aho, Frans Eemil Sillanpaa. More modern writers are Mika Waltari, Veijo Meri Veikko Huovinen, Marja-Leena Mikkola and Timo Mukka."

This translation by an American from Minnesota, began as a project while taking a translation course University of Minnesota to reaffirm her Finnish roots. Becoming popular, the collection was then edited by Borje Vahamaki, Professor of Finnish Studies at the University of Toronto in Ontario.

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Invisible Planets

"Mindblowingly inventive and beautifully written short stories from the most exciting new name in SF.

Hannu Rajaniemi exploded onto the SF scene in 2010 with the publication of his first novel The Quantum Thief. Acclaimed by fellow authors and brilliantly reviewed everywhere, he swiftly established a reputation as an author who could combine extraordinary cutting edge science with beautiful prose and deliver it all with wit, warmth and a delight in the fun of storytelling.

It is exactly these qualities that are showcased in this his first collection of short stories. Drawn from anthologies, magazines and online publications and brought together in book form for the first time in this collection here is a collection of seventeen short stories that range from the lyrical to the bizarre, from the elegiac to the impish. It is a collection that shows one of the great new imaginations in SF having immense fun."

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Norma

"From an internationally best-selling author, a spellbinding new novel about a young woman with a fantastical secret who is trying to solve the mystery of her mother's death. 

When Anita Naakka jumps in front of an oncoming train, her daughter, Norma, is left alone with the secret they have spent their lives hiding: Norma has supernatural hair, sensitive to the slightest changes in her mood--and the moods of those around her--moving of its own accord, corkscrewing when danger is near. And so it is her hair that alerts her, while she talks with a strange man at her mother's funeral, that her mother may not have taken her own life. Setting out to reconstruct Anita's final months--sifting through puzzling cell phone records, bank statements, video files--Norma begins to realize that her mother knew more about her hair's powers than she let on: a sinister truth beyond Norma's imagining. As Sofi Oksanen leads us ever more deeply into Norma's world, weaving together past and present, she gives us a dark family drama that is a searing portrait of both the exploitation of women's bodies and the extremes to which people will go for the sake of beauty."

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The Summer Book

"In The Summer Book, Tove Jansson distills the essence of the summer—its sunlight and storms—into twenty-two crystalline vignettes. This brief novel tells the story of Sophia, a six-year-old girl awakening to existence, and Sophia’s grandmother, nearing the end of hers, as they spend the summer on a tiny unspoiled island in the Gulf of Finland. The grandmother is unsentimental and wise, if a little cranky; Sophia is impetuous and volatile, but she tends to her grandmother with the care of a new parent. Together they amble over coastline and forest in easy companionship, build boats from bark, create a miniature Venice, write a fanciful study of local bugs. They discuss things that matter to young and old alike: life, death, the nature of God and of love. “On an island,” thinks the grandmother, “everything is complete.” In The Summer Book, Jansson creates her own complete world, full of the varied joys and sorrows of life."

(A special thank you to book club member, Ivor Watkins for the suggestion.)

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Tainaron

"The classic novel by an iconic Finnish author, a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. Tainaron: a city like no other, populated by talking insects, as observed by the nameless narrator, who is far from home...

'Leena Krohn has given us a lens of words through which to consider reality, a microscope to reveal yearning and wonder, a telescope to look for what it means to be human, a window and a mirror and an eye other than our own.' - Matthew Cheney (from his afterword)"

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Unknown Soldiers

"'There they stood, bumbling into lines with a bit of difficulty: Mother Finland's chosen sacrifice to world history'

Unknown Soldiers follows the fates of a ramshackle troupe of machine-gunners in the Second World War, as they argue, joke, swear, cadge a loaf of bread or a cigarette, combat both boredom and horror in the swamps and pine forests - and discover that war will make or break them. One of Finland's best-loved books, this gritty and unromantic depiction of battle honours the dogged determination of a country and the bonds of brotherhood forged between men at war, as they fight for their lives.

'A rediscovered classic... profound and enriching ... Unknown Soldiers still has the power to shock' Herald"

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The Year of the Hare

"Suddenly realizing what's important in life (with the help of a bunny), a man quits his job and heads to the countryside in this internationally bestselling comic novel. 

'Which of us has not had that wonderfully seditious idea: to play hooky for a while from life as we know it?' With these words from his foreword, Pico Iyer puts his finger on the exhilaratingly anarchic appeal of The Year of the Hare

While out on assignment, a journalist hits a hare with his car. This small incident becomes life-changing: he decides to quit his job, leave his wife, sell his possessions, and spend a year wandering the wilds of Finland-with the bunny as his boon companion."

(A special thank you to book club member, Stéphanie Gourcilleau for the suggestion.)

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