The Sands of Sarasvati / Sarasvatin hiekkaa

The Sands of Sarasvati by Risto Isomäki, 2005

Risto Isomäki

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!

From the Stilton Agency:

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
Germany, Lübbe
Spain, Booket (Planeta)
Poland, Kojro
Estonia, Kunst Publishers
Lithuania, Tyto Alba
Latvia, Dienas Gramata
Turkey, Bizim Kitaplar
Hungary, Nyitott Könyv


7 comments to The Sands of Sarasvati / Sarasvatin hiekkaa

  • katyasozaeva

    Is this book available in an English translation for us American barbarians who can’t learn any other languages because no one wants to be bothered to teach us since it’s more important to keep up our self-esteem than learn? not that I’m bitter about the idiot educational system over here or anything… *cough* It sounds really interesting, but I can’t find it in English, and the only other language I know any of is German, and that’s been a long time ago…

  • Not quite yet. We’re hoping for publication soon though.

  • John Harding

    FILI’s translation database shows that this book was published by Into last year. In their reply to my e-mail they told me that is HAS been published as they’ve been sent a copy. Curiously, however, there’s no mention of it (yet) on Into Kustannus’ website or in their 2013 or 2014 catalogues, as far as I can see, and neither Akateeminen Kirjakauppa or Suomalainen Kirjakauppa seem to have copies available – let alone Amazon. A Google search (incl. ISBN) shows only apparently having copies for sale – but they don’t export! If it is, in theory, now available, how is one supposed to buy a copy?

  • This is news to me. All I see at Rosebud is the graphic novel, not the prose novel, although one version does list a 2013 publication date. I haven’t had any contact from the publisher in ages.

  • John Harding

    I have looked again at Rosebud’s website. The picture they’re now showing of the cover of the graphic novel was certainly not there when I posted previously. However, the EAN/ISBN they give – 9789522642226 – relates to the prose novel translation, according to FILI’s translation database. The ISBN of the graphic novel was 9789513144906. The details at FILI also list it as a novel, with 345 pages.

  • At least now there is this page by Into Kustannus:

    They don’t seem to have their pages in English. I just emailed them and asked if the translation will appear soon in worldwide delivering net stores.

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