The Best of All Possible Worlds

Otava Publishing Company Ltd, 2016

“In the evening the Berlin sky already had the deep hues and heavy feel of the approaching autumn. I did not recognize my good fortune, I was now thirsting, now bored, I was a little homesick. I was a fool. Everything of value was mine at that time, still mine for a moment longer.”

The tragedy that took place in Berlin tears apart a family: a mother who has made a horrible mistake, a father who cannot find a way out of his sorrow, and a daughter who misremembers.

Theatre School graduate Aurelia is the same age as free Europe: she was born on the same day the Berlin Wall fell. Now Aurelia is on the threshold of her breakthrough: a cult director has cast her in the main role in his upcoming production.

Meanwhile Aurelia’s father is in the hospital, mute. Aurelia refuses to answer the repeated phone calls from her mother. What did her father reveal before his seizure? And who is this figure that seems to be walking constantly at Aurelia’s heel, transforming her reality and knowing everything that she doesn’t?

In her turn, Aurelia’s mother unravels the touching love story between her and Aurelia’s father, as well as the tragedy that befell the family over 20 years ago. The tragedy that changed them all.

Riikka Pulkkinen’s new novel is a beautifully strong, haunting tale about family, the essence of love, and the weight of deep loss.

 Praise for The Best of All Possible Worlds

“Riikka Pulkkinen has written yet another unputdownable novel… [It] is both timeless and extremely timely. That’s what makes it one of this autumn’s most important novels.” – Helsingin Sanomat

“Pulkkinen proves to be a master at depicting great emotions. Everyday matters are daringly exalted, spurred by dramatic force. Aurelia’s father calls this tendency aiming for ‘the highest note’ […] Pulkkinen bravely rejects irony, aiming unashamedly for ‘the highest note’. Good for her.” – Kaleva

“The mother’s narrative parts are striking in their minimalism and straightforwardness, while building up a picture of her painful emotions and experiences… There is also room for a doppelgänger theme at the core of the book, which Pulkkinen handles skilfully and abundantly.” – Turun Sanomat

In terms of style, Pulkkinen’s fifth novel is breathtaking, verbose and bombastic. The most affecting thing about it, though, is how the years distance people from one another… [The novel] definitely makes for memorable reading. It’s also a comforting book.” – Helsingin Sanomat

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Iiris Lempivaara’s Restless Heart

Otava Publishing Company Ltd, 2014

Sparklingly playful, a touch intellectual and irresistibly romantic

“Can you see me? I’m Iiris Lempivaara, I have an anxious heavy heart as well as a bottle of whiskey and a harmonica, and I’m wearing ski pants from 1942.”

Finding herself abruptly abandoned, Iiris undertakes a revolutionary self-help therapy called “You look good in high heels with chocolate smudges on your chin”. Unrelenting practice, required.

When Aleksi stuns Iiris by leaving her after a seven year relationship and admits he has never loved her, a new beginning lies before her – one that at first looks like an end. But never fear – school psychologist Iiris will devise survival strategies! With the help of her 80-something neighbour Marja-Liisa and the lessons Marja-Liisa has derived from life and soap operas, as well as therapy methods Iiris herself concocts, Iiris does get past her sorrows.

 Praise for Iiris Lempivaara’s Restless Heart

“Iiris Lempivaara’s Restless Heart is first and foremost a book that makes you laugh out loud: it is difficult not to giggle and guffaw when reading it. The story Iiris tells offers, as release valve, nimble word magic and humour that is at times ironic but never cynical. The way Pulkkinen makes Iiris Lempivaara’s heart beat through magnificent use of language is also familiar from Pulkkinen’s earlier novels. New to this work is the use of voice and the genre awareness that bring out different aspects of woman’s physical presence.”  – Turun Sanomat

“This time Pulkkinen does not aim for profundity through painful experiences. Instead she throws herself into light-hearted humour. Her sentences are beautifully constructed. The text flows, alive and nimble. As per comedic tradition, the author grants her story a happy ending.” – Helsingin Sanomat

Rights sold

French (Albin Michel)

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The Book of Strangers

Otava Publishing Company Ltd, 2012

”A person can set foot in a new land. The land will receive her. Yet she remains a stranger as she is a stranger unto herself, as long as she carries within her that voiceless unknown that bears no name.”

A gripping tale of the alienation that we carry within, from the internationally acclaimed breakthroughauthor.

Maria, a parish pastor, leaves her life inFinland behind and journeys toNew York, wracked by a heated internal debate between responsibility and the need to escape. InNew York, Maria meets a woman who opens the door to the world of dance. Step by step, she gains the courage to reflect on where she’s really from: that northern village where the repressive religious atmosphere nearly made her invisible, or some more distant place?

Eventually, Maria is also able to turn her gaze inwards. What is the secret she has borne with her across the ocean? What evil was done to that little girl who tried to makeFinlandher home, the girl whose diary Maria carries with her?

The Book of Strangers pulses with the restless rhythms of dance and the density of heavy, haunting night-time memories.  It is a complex story of searching for one’s own truth and admitting one’s humanity – a journey during which we realise we are always a stranger to someone.

Riikka Pulkkinen brings intelligence and all senses to bear in her treatment of alienation, religion, and corporality.

An excerpt in English is available.

300 pages / 140 x 202 mm / 2012

Praise for The Book of Strangers

”Riikka Pulkkinen has written a strong, contemporary novel about the alienation of life.” – Helsingin Sanomat

The Book of Strangers is a very clever novel, and you can’t help but be drawn straight into its flourishingly created world.” – Turun Sanomat

”Riikka Pulkkinen creates ambitious reflections on humanity, with great deliberation and meticulous consideration.” – Aamulehti

”This author does not publish gap novels. (…) The Book of Strangers is as influential and complete as her earlier novels The Border and True.” – Kainuun Sanomat

“Pulkkinen’s third novel is a brave change of direction and in many places a striking statement about alienation.” – Satakunnan Kansa

Published in

  • Danish (Gyldendal)
  • Dutch (De Arbeiderspers)
  • Norwegian (Gyldendal Norsk)

Rights sold

  • French (Albin Michel)
  • Swedish (Norstedt)
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Otava Publishing Company Ltd, 2010

Was it just another affair of a married artist? Or was it a betrayal ruining a little girl’s life? Who speaks the truth? This much-awaited second novel by the acclaimed author of The Border is a conversation on the deceptiveness of memory, and the mercy and love that can come from a lie.

As Elsa is dying, her husband Martti and daughter Eleonoora try to get used to the idea of losing her, but they are crushed with sorrow. As her mother’s existence becomes more fragile, the anchors of Eleonoora’s childhood memories slip away.

Eleonoora’s own daughter, Anna, easily loses herself in pondering the fates of passers-by. For her, the world is full of stories. She learns by chance the story of Eeva, her mother’s nanny, of whom her grandparents have been silent about for years.

Eeva’s forgotten story opens layer by layer. The young woman’s voice carries us back to the 1960s, a time when the pill had been invented but the pick-up line hadn’t. A tale of a mother and daughter reveals how memory can deceive us, if only because it is the most merciful thing to do.

The author depicts the feelings and traumas of three generations with a subtle touch, uncovering those small movements the human mind makes when dealing with the most important things of all.

True is Pulkkinen’s second novel. It was shortlisted for the Finlandia Fiction Prize of 2010. The film rights of True have been sold to Vertigo Productions (Finland), and its stage adaptation premiered at KOM Theatre (Helsinki) in November 2011.

333 pages / 140 x 202 mm

 Praise for True

 “So this is True: Riikka Pulkkinen’s novel is some of the finest literature I have read in a long time.” – Helsingin Sanomat

“Rich writing with gripping hyperrealism… Riikka Pulkkinen is a thirty-something Finnish Joyce Carol Oates.” – Livres Hebdo, France

“The emotional intelligence of the prose avoids melodrama to develop authentic poignancy.” – Kirkus Reviews, USA

“Pulkkinen’s language is both psychologically precise and beautifully poetic, allowing her to go gratifyingly deep into the characters she depicts at all of their numerous levels.” – Etelä-Saimaa, Finland

Published in

  • Czech (Motto/Albatros Media)
  • Danish (Gyldendal)
  • Dutch / Netherlands (Arbeiderspers)
  • English / Australia (Scribe)
  • English / USA (Other Press)
  • Estonian (Pegasus)
  • French (Albin Michel)
  • German (Ullstein)
  • Hungarian (Gondolat)
  • Italian (Garzanti)
  • Korean (Balgunsesang)
  • Latvian (Mansards)
  • Norwegian (Gyldendal Norsk)
  • Polish (Noir sur Blanc)
  • Spanish (Salamandra)
  • Swedish (Norstedt)

Rights sold

  • Croatian (VBZ)
  • Lithuanian (Gimtasis Žodis)
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The Border

Gummerus Publishers, 2006

Anja Aropalo is a 53-year old literature professor whose husband suffers from early Alzheimer’s disease. She swore to help him die once he begins to lose his memory, but struggles with her promise and doesn’t know when to step in. After attempting suicide herself, she realizes that her promise cannot be kept.

Meanwhile, her 16-year old self-mutilating niece, Mari, blossoms as she falls in love with her Finnish teacher. But when he tries to end their affair, she starts cutting herself again. The passionate love between the student and teacher is witnessed by the innocent eyes of the elder’s 6-year old daughter. The author elegantly weaves these stories together, showing how different generations struggle with life while also flirting with death. Riikka Pulkkinen’s debut novel, The Border,sparked enormous interest when it appeared in 2006. The Dutch translation of the book, De Grens (published by Arbeiderspers), also received fantastic reviews in the Netherlands. An excerpt in English is available. 399 pages / 140 x 220 mm


  • 2007 Kaarle Prize (Gummerus Publishers)
  • 2007 Laila Hirvisaari Prize (Bookseller’s Literary Prize)
  • 2006 Shortlisted for the Helsingin Sanomat Literary Prize for best first novel of the year
  • 2006 Most sold debut novel in Finland’s largest bookstore (Akateeminen Kirjakauppa)

Praise for The Border

“This can justly be called an extraordinarily distinguished debut.” – Helsingin Sanomat “Mature and skilfully written.” – Ilkka “A superb debut novel.” – Etelä-Suomen Sanomat “An elegant, tight, and true-to-life debut.” – MeNaiset

“Great and disturbing; a pleasure to read.” – Berner Zeitung

“Anja, Marie and Annie are so realistic because Pulkkinen manages to bring them to life with all their doubts, anxieties and passions.… A vibrant, poetic debut that sounds out the borderlines between love and death.” – Bücher magazine

“Beautiful, filled with autumnal melancholy.” – Annabelle

Published in

  • Armenian (Guitank)
  • Danish (Gyldendal)
  • Dutch / Netherlands (Arbeiderspers)
  • English / Australia (Scribe)
  • Estonian (Pegasus)
  • German (Ullstein)
  • Italian (Garzanti)
  • Swedish (Norstedts)

Rights sold

  • Norwegian (Gyldendal Norsk)


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