Finnish literature is one medium to understand the unique landscape of Finnish mentality. Novels are a window to one’s mind. Even though you did not understand the original language, you can experience the culture since there are several novels translated to English.
We listed our favorite pieces that are available to foreign audiences. Dive deeper into the Finnish culture and devour these masterpieces.
Mika Waltari (19 September 1908 – 26 August 1979) is one of the best known and most productive Finnish writers. His production is not limited only to novels – he wrote poetry, short stories, criminal novels, plays, essays, travel stories, film scripts and rhymed texts for comic strips.
Waltari’s bestseller, The Egyptian, is a multidimensional historical story about a fictional character Sinuhe. The events take place in ancient Egypt, during the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten of the 18th Dynasty. The novel was published in Finnish 1945 and few years later translated in English. The story is now available in 40 different languages. It is also the only Finnish novel transformed to a Hollywood movie.
Sofi Oksanen (7 January 1977 -) is an award-winning writer. She has written five novels and received several international and domestic literature awards from her work.
The Purge is her most known piece. The story handles the happenings during the time of the Soviet occupation of Estonia. The Purge has two strong female characters, old lady Aliide living in the countryside of Estonia, and young woman Zara, who is a victim of sex trafficking.
In fact, the novel is originally based on Oksanen’s play. The Purge is the first play that she wrote. It developed a great success internationally: it is produced now in total in 11 countries. The story came alive also on screen, and the film was a Finnish entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards. Also, an opera composed by Jüri Reinvere is based on the story, and the piece premiered at Finnish National Opera in 2012. The Purge has won several awards, which is not a surprise. The story is gripping.
Väinö Linna (20 December 1920 – 21 April 1992) is known for his classic pieces that describe Finnish history. His work is part of Finnish national identity. The Unknown Soldier tells a story from Continuation War with vivid characters.
Ask any Finn and she/he has read The Unknown Soldier at school. The novel is inseparable from the society and every Independence Day the movie based on the story is played on TV. The Unknown Soldier is put on the stage as well.
Arto Paasilinna (20 April 1942 -) is the man of humor. He knows how to use the language and storytelling to create an entertaining piece.
The Year of a Hare is a story about a man who quits his job and leaves the old life behind. He starts a road trip in the wilderness with a tiny hare cub he found. The novel is translated to 20 languages. You can also enjoy the story on the screen.
Tove Jansson (9 August 1914 – 27 June 2001) is the mother of beloved Moomins. Her work is not limited only to Moominvalley: she was a novelist, painter, illustrator, and comic strip author.
Her most loved story series is about Moomins, hippo-like creatures living peacefully in a valley. Moomin books are translated to 43 languages and the stories enjoy great international success. Moomins adventures are not limited only to novels: the story and characters live in comics, TV-show, movie, and fan products, among others.
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Living abroad can be an exciting experience that encourages new world views, increases cultural curiosity and supports wanderlust. However, it may also bring a sense of personal disorientation because of experiencing an unfamiliar way of life.
Culture shock is a rollercoaster of emotions that one may experience when living abroad for a long period of time. But fear not! Read the following text and be prepared for what may (or may not) happen. In this blog post we shortly present to you the four stages of culture shock.
This first stage is overwhelmingly positive. You are extremely enthusiastic and excited about the new language, people, food and surroundings. At this stage, the move seems like the greatest decision you’ve ever made. It’s an exciting adventure you never want to end.
On short trips, the honeymoon stage may last throughout the whole experience. On longer stays abroad, the honeymoon phase will sooner or later fade away.
In a way, this stage is the most difficult of them all. Eventually, it is familiar to anyone who has lived abroad. You are conquered with a feeling of fatigue of not understanding local gestures, body language and tired of miscommunications that may be happening frequently. You may be tired of constantly having to explain your train of thought.
Small things, such as missing the bus or unable to find your favorite food in local restaurants, may trigger frustration. At this point, you might start to think that moving abroad was the biggest mistake of your life. The feeling of homesickness might overwhelm you. Bouts of depression are common during the frustration stage. But do not despair, it will be over soon.
Frustrations might diminish as you begin to become more familiar and comfortable with the people, food, language and general culture around you. It is easier to navigate in these new environments. You have established friends and other communities of support and you can better recognize the local languages.
Depending on the person, it could take weeks, months or even years of battling with the emotional stages described above. Sooner or later, the acceptance stage of culture shock will arrive.
Acceptance doesn’t mean that you completely understand the culture and behaviors around you. It rather means that you realize that complete understanding is not necessary in order to function and thrive in these new surroundings.
Even though it can be one of the most difficult parts of moving abroad for your studies, culture shock is just as fundamental to the experience as people, food and scenery. There is no recipe for culture shock preventions, but every individual is effected by cultural contrasts in different ways.
Don’t let culture shock scare you! Embrasse every moment of it, as it will shape your experience and mold your character.
Author: Dimitra PH