Out of Scandinavia Artist in Residence: Johanna Sinisalo

Posted on April 25th, 2013 by

Johanna_Sinisalo_UUSI_3The Department of Scandinavian Studies is happy to welcome the Finnish author Johanna Sinisalo May 6-10 as this year’s Out of Scandinavia Artist in Residence. Sinisalo is best known for her Finlandia-Prize-winning novel, Troll: A Love Story (Ennen päivänlaskua ei voi, 2000). Throughout her week on campus Sinisalo will visit classes and engage with Gustavus students and faculty. At 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 8th, Sinisalo will present the talk “Finding Fresh Perspectives – The Breakthrough of Non-realistic Genres in Finnish Contemporary Fiction.” The lecture will be held in Confer 127 and is free and open to the public.

Johanna Sinisalo was born in 1958 in Sodankylä, Finnish Lapland, and now lives in the city of Tampere. Sinisalo began her writing career with science-fiction short stories and has seven times been the recipient of the national Atorox Award for the best domestic short story in science fiction. Her stories have been widely translated and garnered her international acclaim, including nomination for the Nebula Award in the U.S.

Sinisalo’s debut novel Troll – A Love Story received the most prestigious literary award in Finland, the Finlandia Prize in 2000, and tied for the James Tiptree Jr. Award in 2004. It has been translated into 14 languages. Her fourth novel, Birdbrain (Linnunaivot, 2008), was translated into English in 2010, and the English rights of her latest novel The Blood of Angels (Enkelten verta, 2011) have recently been acquired. In addition to five novels and two short story collections, she has written a book for children entitled Möbiuksen maa [The Land of the Mobius Strip, 2010].

Sinisalo’s scope as a writer include numerous reviews, articles, comic strip scripts and screenplays, and the original story for the international science fiction comedy movie Iron Sky. She had edited two anthologies, of which The Dedalus Book of Finnish Fantasy is available in English.


An abstract of Sinisalo’s May 8th public lecture:

In the brief history of Finnish literature, the realistic tradition has been noticeably predominant until recent years. Almost everything that was written outside the canon was automatically considered to be low-brow genre entertainment, with very few exceptions. But then something happened. Fantastic elements started to appear in the works of most worthy scribes, mythical and mystical themes were no more something to be ashamed of. It was suddenly acceptable to discuss societal issues without describing the actual processes themselves but with the means of alternate history, allegory, dystopian visions and projections into future. Finlandia-Prize-winning author Johanna Sinisalo will give a talk about how Finnish literature did re-find and refine its imaginative roots, and how she herself uses non-realistic genres as her creative tool.


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