Literary news from the northern coast of the Gulf of Finland

What is written and read in the 21st-century Finland?


The article gives an overview of the Finnish literature of the current century. The focus lies on poetry and prose, leaving out drama, children’s and youth literature, and comics. What is observed as general trends are genre shift and mixing, disspation of a single ’I’ or narrator, a loss of the boundary from between fact and fiction, intertextuality, and the use of a wide range of topics defying taboos. It is pointed out that modern Finnish literature is personified and the name of an author will typically become a brand.

In prose the salient topics include war, history, the role of a man in the modern society, immigration and multicultural Finland. The novels speak in several voices, whereas the short stories tend to integrate into comprehensive series. In autofiction, where the author is transformed into a character, the boundaries of memory, truth and fiction are knowingly violated. A lot of biographical novels are also written. Humour is popular both in poetry and prose, while often the laugh of a Finn is on himself. Modern Finnish poetry is experimental, often gauging the possibilities offered by digital media. The mainstream does not care much for classical meters, but the sound, voice and rhythm are often emphasized. At the same time, prose poetry seems to have regained popularity. Curiously, different modes, styles, topics, or languages can appear mixed within a collection or even in a single poem.