TUE—October 10—6 PM, free



MoreLectures + Literary

Read and discuss literature with our Nordic Book Club Online! On October 10, translator Mia Spangenberg joins us for a special talk on The Red Book of Farewells by Finnish author Pirkko Saisio, out now from Two Lines Press.

Pirkko Saisio’s autofictional novel, in Mia Spangenberg’s tender translation, is a mesmerizing account of radical politics and sexual awakening in a series of farewells — to her mother, to the idealism of youth, to friends and lovers, and finally to her grown daughter. The novel embeds readers in a delirious Finland, where art and communist politics are hopelessly intertwined, and where queer love (still criminalized before 1971) thrives in underground bars. But then one morning in 2002, on a remote island off the coast of Finland, the narrator Pirkko Saisio informs her publisher that she’s accidentally deleted her latest manuscript, The Red Book of Farewells.

Playful and mysterious, and winner of the Finlandia Prize and Aleksis Kivi Prize, The Red Book of Farewells is a work that stoically embraces the small revolutions of moving on.

The event will be attended by special guest and translator Mia Spangenberg. The event will take place via Zoom; register via the link above.

“A beautifully rendered portrait of a strikingly queer life–Saisio troubles any distinction we might try to draw between the personal and the political, the remembered and the invented” (Morgan Thomas, author of Manywhere)

“This Red Book of Farewells is also a book of welcoming: to life, to love, to death, to art, to revolution, to our ever-changing identities. It is hilarious and heartbreaking and like nothing I’ve ever read before” (Jazmina Barrera, author of Linea Nigra)

About the Author

Pirkko Saisio (b. 1949) studied drama and completed her actor’s training in 1975. Her debut novel The Course of Life (Elämänmeno, 1975) won the J. H. Erkko Award. Saisio has been nominated for the Finlandia Prize seven times, winning it in with The Red Book of Farewells (Punainen erokirja, 2003).

She has, among other awards, received Aleksis Kivi Prize and State Literature Award. Apart from novels, she has written numerous plays and scripts for film and television and is a well-known theater director.

About the Translator

Mia Spangenberg translates from Finnish, Swedish, and German into English. Her work has been published in Finland and the UK, and appeared in journals such as LitHub and Asymptote.

She holds a Ph.D. in Scandinavian studies from the University of Washington, Seattle, where she resides with her family.