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Sirpa Kähkönen

Sirpa Helena Kähkönen
Born September 15, 1964 Kuopio

Studies in literature, University of Tampere, and comparative literature and history (Swedish language) 1984–89, University of Helsinki

Freelance writer 1996–
Otava publishing house 1991–96
University of Helsinki history project 1988–90
Helsinki University Library 1987–88

Publications, awards and special achievements:

Novels: Kuu taskussa (‘Moon in your pocket’) 1991, Lukittu lähde (‘Closed source’) 1994, Mustat morsiamet (‘Black brides’) 1998, Rautayöt (‘Iron nights’) 2002, Jään ja tulen kevät (‘Springs of ice and fire’) 2004, Lakanasiivet (‘Linen wings’) 2007, Neidonkenkä (‘Calypso’) 2009, Hietakehto (‘Sand cradle’) 2012, Graniittimies (‘Granite man’)2014

Nonfiction: Valoa ja varjoa (‘Light and shadow’)(with Jaana Iso-Markun) 2007, Vihan ja rakkauden liekit (‘The flames of hate and love’) 2010, Kuopion taivaan alla (‘Under the Kuopio sky’) 2011

Plays: Tilkkuenkelit (‘Patchwork angels’) 2008, Helene S. – rakkaudella (‘Helene S. – with love’) 2014, Palava kaupunki (‘Burning city’) 2015.

Numerous translations into Finnish. Columnist for several newspapers and periodicals.

Pro Finlandia Medal 2015

Kiitos Kirjasta literary prize 2008

Savonia literary prize 1999

State Award for Children's and Youth literature 1992

Nominated for the Finlandia Prize 2007, 2014, and the Finlandia Prize for Nonfiction 2010.

Photo: Otava
Written by Sirpa Kähkönen (Kaija Hartikainen ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

My Best Moment From the University of Helsinki

When I set foot inside the University Library, designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, I understood that everything that I had learned at the Kuopio Classical School lived on and was true.

The University Library, now the National Library of Finland, became my spiritual home. For my entire adult life I have been endlessly grateful that whenever I have had the desire or the time I have been able to spend time every day amidst the kind of architecture that speaks to all my senses and elevates every moment.

Each day that I walk from the bus stop in Kaisaniemi down Unioninkatu to the National Library or the National Archives, I feel grateful and glad that at the heart of my Helsinki there is such beauty and harmony. The wide flagstones clatter under my heels, the seasons change, with the horse-chestnuts at the corner of the Library bursting into leaf and forming a wreath around the Tsar’s head, blossoming on a summer night with mysterious lanterns, shedding their leaves in the autumn breeze, and extending their snow-covered branches over the cast iron fence—a day will come when I will no longer walk under the chestnuts nor ascend the stone steps to reach Engel’s dome, but the building will still stand as charming as ever on its hill, capturing the adoring gazes of new passers-by.

Photo from the home archive of Sirpa Kähkönen.
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