Sofi Oksanen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Sofi Oksanen
Sofia Oksanen, vinnare av Nordiska radets litteraturpris 2010.jpg
Sofi Oksanen
Born Sofi-Elina Oksanen
(1977-01-07) January 7, 1977 (age 39)
Jyväskylä, Finland
Occupation Writer
Nationality Finnish
Notable works Purge

Sofi Oksanen (born January 7, 1977) is a Finnish contemporary writer. She is considered one of the most prominent contemporary authors of her generation as well as a global literary phenomenon.[1] She was born in Jyväskylä. Her father is Finnish and her mother is Estonian. So far, Oksanen has published four novels, of which Purge has gained widest recognition, and two plays. She has received several international and domestic awards for her literary work. Latest was the Swedish Academy's Nordic Prize in 2013 for her body of work.


Sofi-Elina Oksanen was born and raised in Jyväskylä located in Central Finland. Her father is a Finnish electrician, her mother an Estonian engineer who grew up in Estonia during the Soviet period and emigrated to Finland in the 1970s.[2] Oksanen studied literature at the University of Jyväskylä and University of Helsinki and later drama at the Finnish Theatre Academy in Helsinki.[3] Oksanen is actively involved in public debate in Finland and comments on current issues in her columns and various talk shows. She is bisexual[4] and has suffered from eating disorders.[5] In 2009 she received an award from the organizers of Helsinki Pride for her activism on behalf of LGBT people in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia.[6]


Oksanen first became well known for her novel Stalinin lehmät ("Stalin's Cows") (2003),[7] a story about a young girl's eating disorder and the image of Estonian women who had immigrated to Finland. It was nominated for the Runeberg Prize.[8]

Two years later, she released her second novel Baby Jane (2005)[9] about anxiety disorder as well as violence among lesbian couples.

Oksanen’s first original play Puhdistus ("Purge") was staged at the Finnish National Theatre in 2007. From out of the play grew Oksanen’s third literary novel Puhdistus (2008).[10] It ranked number 1 on the bestseller list for fiction in Finland when it was published[11] and has received numerous awards, both in Finland and abroad.

The play Purge had its American première at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, in New York City, on February 10, 2011. The text was translated by Eva Buchwald and the production directed by Zishan Ugurlu.[12]

From October 2011, the play was independently produced in 11 countries, with productions in Norway, France, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Iceland,[13] Lithuania, Germany[14] and Hungary. It premiered in London at the Arcola Theatre from 22 February - 24 March with a new production directed by Elgiva Field.[15]

The novel has been adapted into a film – see Purge (2012 film) – directed by Antti Jokinen, selected as the Finnish entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards.[16]

In 2012, Oksanen published a map of Soviet Gulag prison camps, drawn by Niilo Koljonen, in the National Audiovisual Archive.[17]

Her fourth novel Kun kyyhkyset katosivat ("When the Doves Disappeared") was published in Finland August 31, 2012. The title refers to German soldiers catching and eating all the pigeons in Tallinn during the German occupation of Estonia.[18]

The book is translated into English by Lola Rogers: When the Doves Disappeared: A novel. (Knopf, 2015. ISBN 978-0-385-35017-4.)


In Finland, Oksanen was awarded the prestigious Finlandia Prize (2008), the Runeberg Prize (2009) and the Nordic Council Literature Prize[19] (2010) for Puhdistus.

Abroad, the novel won the French Fnac prize in 2010, selected from some 300 works published in France amid positive reviews by French critics; it was the first time the prize had been awarded to a foreigner.[20][21] Purge was also the first Finnish work to win the Prix Femina Étranger award.[22] and the first work by a female Finn to win the Nordic Council's Literature Prize.[23]

In 2009, the largest daily Estonian newspaper Postimees named Sofi Oksanen Person of the Year; according to the editor-in-chief Merit Kopli the decision was unanimous.[24] In 2010 the Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves decorated Sofi Oksanen with the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana IV Class. In November 2012 the President of Finland Sauli Niinistö decorated Sofi Oksanen with the Pro Finlandia Medal of the Order of the Lion of Finland (awarded to artists and writers).[25] In 2013, she was awarded the Swedish Academy Nordic Prize, the first Finnish woman to win that prize.[26]


  1. ^ Herald Scotland
  2. ^ Judith Katzir (03.05.2010). "The International Writers Festival, Jerusalem" (PDF). Haaretz. Retrieved 05.09.2010.  Check date values in: |access-date=, |date= (help)
  3. ^ "TeaK". Retrieved 2014-03-23. 
  4. ^ Helsingin Sanomat – International Edition
  5. ^ – Sofi Oksanen
  6. ^ Pride Around the World, San Francisco Bay Times, Rex Wockner, published: July 16, 2009, accessed Sept 6, 2010
  7. ^ [1] Archived October 6, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ [2][dead link]
  9. ^ [3] Archived September 26, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ [4][dead link]
  11. ^ [5][dead link]
  12. ^ Helsingin Sanomat, December 19, 2010, p. C 1: "Kvartetti Euroopan kahtiajaosta" by Jukka Petäjä. — Purge at La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York
  13. ^ "Þjóðleikhúsið". 2011-10-27. Retrieved 2014-03-23. 
  14. ^ "Staatsschauspiel Hannover : Spielplan > REPERTOIRE A-Z > Fegefeuer". 2012-01-26. Retrieved 2014-03-23. 
  15. ^ [6][dead link]
  16. ^ Holdsworth, Nick (19 September 2012). "Finland picks 'Purge' for Oscar contest". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved 19 September 2012. 
  17. ^ "GULAG - Vankileirien saaristo". 2012-12-04. Retrieved 2014-03-23. 
  18. ^ Sofi Oksanen and Luke Harding (April 18, 2015). "Sofi Oksanen: ‘We know about British colonialism. Russian colonialism is not well known’" (Interview with subject). The Guardian. Retrieved April 18, 2015. The novel’s title refers to German soldiers who snared and ate pigeons in the Estonian capital, Tallinn 
  19. ^ "Sofi Oksanen has won the Nordic Council Literature Prize 2010 — Nordic cooperation". 2010-03-30. Retrieved 2014-03-23. 
  20. ^ "Sofi Oksanen's 'Purge' Wins Fnac Prize". ERR News. 2010-08-19. Retrieved 05.09.2010.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  21. ^ "Prix du roman Fnac à "Purge" de la Finlandaise Sofi Oksanen". AFP. 17 August 2010. Retrieved 05.09.2010.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  22. ^ "Oksanen Wins French Literary Prize". YLE Uutiset. November 2, 2010. Retrieved November 3, 2010. 
  23. ^ Helsingin Sanomat (March 3, 2010). "Sofi Oksanen Wins Nordic Council's Literature Prize". Retrieved November 3, 2010. 
  24. ^ Toomas Hõbemägi (2009-12-18). "Postimees names Finnish writer Sofi Oksanen Person of the Year". Baltic Business News. Retrieved 07.09.2010.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  25. ^ (Finnish)
  26. ^ Staff writer (March 15, 2013). "Now Swedish Academy's turn to honour author Oksanen". YLE Uutiset. Retrieved March 16, 2013. 

External links[edit]