Finnish author Philip Teir joins American author Kathryn Davis in conversation as they discuss the life and legacy of Tove Jansson – one of
Finland’s most beloved artists and authors – and celebrate the release of her short stories published in English for the first time.
About Tove Jansson
Tove Jansson (1914-2001) was born in Helsinki into Finland’s Swedish-speaking minority. Her father was a sculptor and her mother a graphic designer and illustrator. Winters were spent in the family’s art-filled studio and summers in a fisherman’s cottage on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, a setting that would later figure in Jansson’s writing for adults and children.
Jansson loved books as a child and set out from an early age to be an artist. Her first illustration was published when she was 15 years old; four years later a picture book appeared under a pseudonym. After attending art schools in both Stockholm and Paris, she returned to Helsinki, where in the 1940s and ’50s she won acclaim for her paintings and murals. From 1929 until 1953 Jansson drew humorous illustrations and political cartoons for the left-leaning anti-Fascist Finnish-Swedish magazine Garm, and it was there that what was to become Jansson’s most famous creation, Moomintroll, a character with a dreamy disposition, made his first appearance.
She went on to write about the adventures of Moomintroll, the Moomin family, and their curious friends in a long-running comic strip and in a series of books for children that have been translated throughout the world, inspiring films, several television series, an opera, and theme parks in Finland and Japan. Jansson also wrote 11 novels and short story collections for adults, including Fair Play (2011), The Summer Book (2008), and The True Deceiver (2009) (all available as NYRB Classics). In 1994 she was awarded the Prize of the Swedish Academy. Jansson and her companion, the artist Tuulikki Pietilä, continued to live part-time in a cottage on the remote outer edge of the Finnish archipelago until 1991.”
About Kathryn Davis
Kathryn Davis (b. 1946) is the author of seven novels, the most recent of which are Duplex (Graywolf Press, 2013) and The Thin Place (Little, Brown, 2006). Her other books are Labrador (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1988); The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf (Knopf, 1993); Hell: A Novel (Ecco, 1998); The Walking Tour (Houghton Mifflin, 1999); and Versailles (Houghton Mifflin, 2002).
An award-winning novelist, Davis has received the Janet Heidiger Kafka Prize (1988); the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1999); and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2000). In 2006, she won a Lannan Foundation Literary Award. Davis lives in Vermont and teaches in the MFA program at Washington University in St. Louis, where she is the Hurst Senior Writer-in-Residence.
About Philip Teir
Philip Teir (b. 1980) is a Finland-Swede and considered one of the most promising young writers in Finland. After several years as culture editor of Hufvudstadsbladet, the highest-circulation Swedish-language newspaper in Finland, he now works as a fulltime author and freelancer.
Teir has published poetry and short stories, and has contributed to several anthologies; his first novel The Winter War: A Novel about Marriage/Vinterkriget: En äktenskapsroman (Schildts & Söderströms, 2013) will be published in English in 2015 by Serpent’s Tail with a translation by Tiina Nunnally. Teir lives and works in Helsinki.