The Helsinki Science Fiction Society has announced the winner of the 2023 Tähtifantasia Award, given for the best fantasy book published in Finnish during the previous year.
- Täytetyt by Jyrki Vainonen
Vainonen is a Finnish writer. His book’s title, according to Google Translate, means “Stuffed”. And the English version of the award citation says:
Elias, a key witness in a major criminal trial, is brought to safety in the strange Wall City. He is the only human inhabitant of the place. As a guide, he receives only one letter telling him that the city belongs to the Master. The Master’s figure enters Elias’ dreams, erasing his memory night by night and filling it with new visions.
The days of a lonely man pass slowly in an environment that nature and animals are gradually occupying as their own. While the protagonist’s past disappears, he clings to the remnants of his old self. Elias, as far as that is his real name, writes down in a notebook everything he remembers from his previous life. At the same time, he tries to unravel the mystery of the city and understand what the stuffed, embalmed human figures in abandoned houses mean.
Vainonen places grotesquely cruel scenes and strong symbolism in the text. They embody the guidance of the unconscious in the course of life, latent power mechanisms, linguistic and pictorial perception of reality.
We don’t see the world directly, but we try to explain it. We do not find the self, but a web of relationships between the past and present, between the environment and other people. The boundaries between man, animal and land are blurring. The beliefs we imagine to be secure are imposed on us from the outside. Is this distressing or ultimately liberating?
The award jury is composed of critics Jukka Halme and Aleksi Kuutio, Osmo Määttä of Risingshadow.net and Niina Tolonen, a book blogger. Aleksi is the chair and is also on the Board of The Finnish Critics’ Association.