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Looking for a good book to read while you’re traveling in Finland? Check out my list of books about Finland and by Finnish authors.
Regarded as the national epic of Finland and the Russian Republic of Karelia, the 19th-century work of epic poetry incorporates folklore and mythology from the region. The work is so significant in Finland that many companies, landmarks, and locations take their names from people or places in the Kalevala. Each year on February 28, the country celebrates both Finnish Culture Day and Kalevala Day, commemorating Lönnrot’s first version of the work.
You can’t go to Finland without spotting a Moomin in some shape or form. Originally published in Swedish in 1945, the comic strip of Schmoo-like characters became ubiquitous during the 1990s, when the muumibuumi (Finnish for “Moomin boom”) saw the brand gain international status. Moomins have become such a source of pride that they’ve been used to advertise Finland around the world. (Recommended by H.E. Kirsti Kauppi, Finnish ambassador to the U.S., in CN Traveler.)
Nearly 50 authors from all five Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) provide essays on Northern life, including the environmental business practices that have made the region an economic powerhouse and one of the regions with the happiest residents and best quality of life in the world. (Recommended by H.E. Björn Lyrvall, Swedish ambassador to the U.S., in CN Traveler.)
Despite having written only this one novel, Kivi is hailed as the national author of Finland — so great is the book’s influence. But Seitsemän veljestä (as it is known in the original Finnish) is little known outside its native country due in part to the difficulty in translating the text, which is a stylized form of local dialect that draws heavily on regional humor. Although the English translation may not live up to the prestige of the original, it’s worth reading the book that brought an end to the domination of Swedish-language authors in Finland.
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