Big electoral turnouts are generally considered a good thing. But, writes columnist Jyrki Lehtola, in Finland the fact that the vote went up in the last Finnish general election caused a revelation. Educated urbanites and the media (perhaps near enough the same thing), are shocked by how 20 per cent of their fellow Finns think – and the ramifications caused tremors all across Europe.
Antti Nylén (s.1973) is an essayist and translator specializing in 19th century French literature. He has translated Baudelaire, Flaubert and J.K. Huysmans, among others. Nylén is a feminist, a devout Catholic, a vegan, a dandy, a father of two, and an exceptionally violent writer. He lives in Helsinki.
Antti Nylén’s second essay collection, Essays on Desire and Doubt, examines Nico, Morrissey, the possibility of being saved, buttocks, Robert Bresson, strange sensuality, religion and irreligiosity. These freely-meandering essays are often obstinate and always emotional.
“I hope that everyone who reads the book will become a vegetarian. And if ever before they’ve been hostile to Christianity, that they will think two friendly thoughts about it, about Jesus and the church,” Nylén has said in an interview (Uusimaa 17.1.2011).
Essays on Desire and Doubt received rave reviews and was nominated for the Runeberg Prize for Literature for 2010.
“Desire is pleasure in and of itself; need is a state of deprivation and distress.”
“Suspicion is not-belief. Nonetheless, it is not a knowing. Suspicion is a synonym for faith.”
Original title: Halun ja epäluulon esseet Publisher: Savukeidas 2010, 393 pages
Cover design: Antti Eerikäinen
Even though this will not please everyone, after Antti Nylén’s second collection, Essays on Desire and Doubt, we are forced to admit that the young essayists at Savukeidas are writing the most interesting, intellectually challenging, sociophilosophically insightful literature being produced in Finland today
– Matti Mäkelä, Helsingin Sanomat newspaper
Even though Nylén shuns the irony characteristic of contemporary prose, his sentences exude laconic flair and black humor.
– Jussi Kaskinen, Etelä-Saimaa newspaper
The best thing in Nylén’s essays is that you can appreciate them even if you don’t agree with him. Books that make you want to fling them against the wall don’t come along very often.
– Marja Honkonen, Jyväskylän Ylioppilaslehti college newspaper
In recent decades the Finnish literature have been keeping their distance from Christianity. — – As a result, Essays on Desire and Doubt, by the versatile man of letters Antti Nylén, feels like the inauguration of a new epoch.
– Esko Miettinen, Sana Christian magazine
The power [of the essays] is in the ideas, in Nylén’s way of thinking differently than what we are used to. Essays offer something invigorating, comforting. They are invigorating. It isn’t true that there is nothing new under the sun. There is here.
– Lauri Linna, Scriptor
I grabbed The Sands of Sarasvati off the shelf as soon as I saw it in 2005, immediately devoured it, and then went looking for more from the author. It was a great pleasure to do the finishing work on the graphic novel version, and I’m thrilled now to be working on the full novel. Look for more info and a sample in fall 2011!
The Sands of Sarasvati is an eco-thriller about man-made environmental catastrophe. This visionary work of literature reflects on the significance of giant tsunamis in the history of mankind. The novel had already been sent to the publisher before the tsunami hit the coastal regions of Asia in 2004.
The events take place in the near future. They encompass Finland, the continental ice sheet of Greenland, and the Indian Ocean. The Russian researcher Sergey is trying to investigate the mystery of a sunken city in the Gulf of Cambay. He works together with his colleague Amrita, and with an Indian research body. At the same time, Finnish researcher Kari Ahola tries to solve the problem of melting ice sheets. He cooperates with a research unit in Greenland, run by the Filipino recluse Susan Chang, which also studies the ice sheets. These two lines of research line up surprisingly well, resulting in the discovery that the ice sheets are in imminent danger of melting. This would result in a catastrophic tsunami and flood. The researchers also begin to find answers to questions posed thousands of years ago.
In the book’s climax, although scientists have been able to predict the birth of the tsunami, there is no time to prevent it.
In addition to the plot, the selling point of this novel is the expertise of the author at making complex science accessible. Isomäki creates suspense through the research paths of the novel’s heroes. The reader is given an extensive view of world history, its natural phenomenon, the birth and development of civilisations, the structure of space, and the mystery of Atlantis. Isomäki is at his most impressive when describing the polar ice sheets: the unpredictability of snow, ice, air and water; their movement and shapes. He captivates the reader with his unique insight into the complexities of water.
The book was nominated for the Finlandia prize for literature. It was already awarded the Thank You for the Book medal, and the Star Wanderer (Tähtivaeltaja) prize for science fiction.
“The Sands of Sarasvati is an eco-thriller of apocalyptic proportions, which culminates in a giant flood. The book is both topical, and frighteningly believable. It is a lesson in how our melting of the polar ice sheets may trigger a tsunami that threatens the entire globe. Isomäki’s thought provoking and captivating thriller is flooded with cultural and historical knowledge, and with old wisdom from the East.” Finlandia Prize judges panel
“The Sands of Sarasvati is a cleverly written thriller which goes many levels deeper than just the prospect of an environmental catastrophe.” –Kansan Uutiset
“The Sands of Sarasvati is a frightening thriller because its set-up is so very real. This book must be commended for the way that it handles a difficult subject, and explains the complex causative chain to the reader. At long last, we get to read a literary work that has a lot to say. The Sands of Sarasvati is a significant contribution to the ongoing dialogue about climate change.“ –Parnasso
“Thanks to its subject and the way it is written, The Sands of Sarasvati is one of the key books of this autumn. As a narrator of the movement of snow and ice, Isomäki is as captivating as Peter Hoeg was in his novel Smilla’s Sense of Snow.” –Aamulehti
Finland, Tammi (Bonnier)
Denmark, Turbine Forlaget
Spain, Booket (Planeta)
Estonia, Kunst Publishers
Lithuania, Tyto Alba
Latvia, Dienas Gramata
Turkey, Bizim Kitaplar
Hungary, Nyitott Könyv