The Helsinki Science Fiction Society has announced the winner of the 2022 Tähtifantasia Award, given for the best fantasy book published in Finnish during the previous year.
- Susanna Clarke: Piranesi; Translated into Finnish by Helene Bützow. Published by WSOY
From the citation, via Google Translate:
A man called Piranes lives in an endless maze consisting of large halls and staircases. There are statues in the halls, clouds and stars can be seen from the upper floors of the building, there is water at the bottom. The man seems to have lost his memory and is at the mercy of the tides, as well as other forces of nature.
The main character is a prisoner, a scientist and an explorer of his own kind. His world may contain ancient secrets. Piranes’ only interlocutor is the Second, mysterious man, from whom he receives the task to complete. However, Piranesi questions the meaningfulness of the task assigned to him. For another, the world is a labyrinth, but Piranesi calls it a House that is beautiful and gentle on its inhabitants.
The Piranesi novel is original and surprising, beautiful and fascinating. The concise work serves as an exciting mystery, a poetically depicted fantasy journey, as well as a philosophical reflection. The skillfully paced narrative keeps the reader in its grip and gradually opens up the riddle. The author creates a rich overview of his world that expands in the reader’s mind. The positivity and sincerity of the main character contrast with the peculiarity of his situation and partly the terrible events.
Susanna Clarke’s novel is a work of art that does not empty into a single interpretation. It tells about illness and recovery, memory and identity, the search for knowledge, the joy of loneliness and longing for other people. Piranesi shows how, in seemingly impossible situations, you can find peace of mind in small things. On the other hand, the message of the book does not encourage romantic fantasies. The main character’s means of survival include logical reasoning, organizing everyday life and tactile doing.
At the center of the novel are the psychology of the title character, as well as the infinity, enigma and beauty of the House, that is, reality. The book challenges you to reflect on the relationship with the world and how to escape from it. In the novel, magic is used as a science degenerated into a mere technique. Instead of revealing the wonder of the universe, it is a tool for the pursuit of power. Piranesi values its environment for its own sake, while for others it is for exploitation. Clarke refers to a society in which people have forgotten their share of the bigger picture and focus on petty exploits. The book hints that when looking for a secret, you should pay attention to openness and listening. Care and compassion are the keys to the world.
Larger than its size, Piranesi will remain in the reader’s mind. It is a Borges-like puzzle in the style of Mervyn Peake. A fiction about our strange and wonderful reality and being human.
The award jury is composed of critics Jukka Halme, and Aleksi Kuutio, Risingshadow.net representative Osmo Määttä, and book blogger Niina Tolonen.