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Kari Hotakainen

Kari Matti Hotakainen
Born January 9, Pori

Bachelor of arts 1980 (Finnish literature), University of Helsinki

Author 1995–
Copywriter 1986–1995, WSOY
Copywriter1985–1986, Mainonnantekijät
Journalist 1981–1985, STT

Savonia literary prize 1993, for the book Buster Keaton – elämä ja teot (‘Buster Keaton – life and work’)
Tobelius literary prize 2000, for the work Näytän hyvältä ilman paitaa (‘I look good without a shirt’)
Finlandia Prize 2002 for the novel Juoksuhaudantie (‘Trench road’)
Nordic Council Literature Prize 2004, for the novel Juoksuhaudantie (‘Trench road’)
Nordic Drama Prize for the play Punahukka (‘Lupus’)
Prix Courrier International for best translated work of fiction 2011,for the novel Ihmisen osa (The Human Part)
Pro Finandia Medal 2013

Photo: Laura Malmivaara, Siltala
Written by Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta
Translated by Matthew Billington

The social responsibility of a writer

A successful writer either enters or is forced into the limelight. In addition to bookshop podiums, after the publication of a new book comes a flood of interview requests. The media is often more interested in the author’s private life than in the book itself. For Kari Hotakainen this is a little difficult. For him the book, in its autonomy, is the most important thing: every reader reads and experiences it in their own way, and the writer’s persona or private life should be of no significance.

Many recognise Hotakainen on the street, but they seldom approach him to describe their reading experiences or ask for autographs. The four most tormenting days of the year, if he has had a book released, are the Helsinki Book Fair.

– The audience don’t know how nervous I get about appearing in public. At fairs people lose all their tact and they come too close. I often remind myself of the fact that I’m also a fan of musicians and other writers. Nevertheless, it feels odd that someone would want to hear my opinion on matters unconnected to my books.

For Hotakainen, a writer’s only social responsibility is to write well.

– Naturally, I writer can take a stance on social issues if they want. Sometimes it’s actually good to voice your opinion. Hopefully, you have something important to say. Simple head nodding is easy for anyone.

The most essential thing included in the responsibility to write well is thinking.

– If you use your brain for proper thought, find out about things, and after that write well about it, then you are on the right track. The text is always judged by the reader, and the writer can have no influence over that.

Kari Hotakainen at the Helsinki Book Fair in 2013. Photo: Siltala.


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