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Suvi Ahola

Suvi Katariina Ahola
Born May 5, 1959, Sippola

BA 1983 (Finno-Ugric Linguistics), MA 1987 and PhD 2013 (Finnish Literature), University of Helsinki
Journalist 1983, Sanoma Ltd. Journalist School

Journalist 1984-, Helsingin Sanomat daily newspaper
Copy editor 1994–1995, Kodin Kuvalehti magazine
Author 1999-

Judge for the J. K. Erkko First Book Prize 1984–1994
Judge for Helsingin Sanomat’s Literary Prize 1995–2010, 2013
Finnish Institute in Estonia board member 1997–2005, vice chair 2001–2005
Institute for the Languages of Finland advisory committee member 2004–2010
Minna Canth Society board member 2005-, vice chair 2006–2012, chair 2012-
Tuglas Society board member 2008–2014
Deputy employee representative in the shipping department of Sanoma Magazines Finland 2013-
Union of Journalists in Finland council member 2014-

Written by Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta
Translated by Joe McVeigh

Passionately following the dream job

A student exchange to the US in her upper secondary school days and a lively interrail trip confirmed to Suvi Ahola that a person must do what they really want to in life. Her previous plans to study medicine or law were placed to the side when Ahola found an interest in literature. At the University of Helsinki, however, she began to seriously study Finno-Ugric research in 1979.

After graduating with a bachelor’s, Ahola changed her major to Finnish Literature.

– During my studies in Finno-Ugristics, I quickly noticed that linguistics is not my thing. It requires logic and methodical organization. With literary research I was able to make interpretations, to read books and write my own perspectives of them.

The best part of Ahola’s literature studies were the small practicums. In those courses they read the classics, wrote texts and discussed interpretations. In connection with one critical practicum, Ahola wrote about the Hesingin Sanomat newspaper for an exam. This led to her career as a culture journalist.

– In the end I ventured to apply for the Sanoma journalism course in 1982. I had no experience with journalism. I was working in a bank in the summer. To my surprise I was accepted into the journalism course and the road took me to work in the Sanoma media group.

Ahola began working as a journalist for the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper in January 1984. She finished her Master’s degree in 1987 while working there. She has mostly worked as a culture journalist and critic, but she has made the rounds doing other jobs in the media group.

– Over thirty years ago I got my dream job. The best parts of my job have been the possibilities to do a variety of work. It is enlightening to see a variety of newspapers and a variety of ways to do this kind of job, from working with a fast-paced newspaper to a creating a magazine at a peaceful pace.

Ahola is most suited to writing critiques and articles on the subject of culture. In those pieces she gets to chew the topic and raise more ideas within the same story than she would in a basic column. As a culture journalist she writes critiques as well as interviews and event news. The topics often come up on their own and are related to everyday life.

– I have always written everything through my own view. I stopped writing a diary when I became a critic. I noticed that I could write the same things that were occupying my mind for the newspaper. I have also written books about my own and my family’s life.

Ahola feels privileged in many ways. She says that she has been fortunate and secure in life, and that she has been able to work in her dream job and live among books because of her writing.

The cultural journalist in action interviewing American author E. L. Doctorow at the Frankfurt Book Fair in the early 1990s. Picture Touko Siitala.​
The cultural journalist in action interviewing American author E. L. Doctorow at the Frankfurt Book Fair in the early 1990s. Picture Touko Siitala.​


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