Sofi Oksanen

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Sofi Oksanen
Sofi Oksanen
Sofi Oksanen
BornSofi-Elina Oksanen
(1977-01-07) 7 January 1977 (age 47)
Jyväskylä, Finland
Notable worksPurge

Sofi-Elina Oksanen (born 7 January 1977) is a Finnish writer and playwright. Oksanen has published six novels, of which "Purge" has gained the widest recognition. She has received several international and domestic awards for her literary work. Her work has been translated into more than 40 languages[1] and sold more than two million copies. Oksanen has been called "Finnish-Estonian Charles Dickens" and her work has often been compared to Margaret Atwood's novels.[2] Oksanen is actively involved in public debate in Finland and comments on current issues in her columns and various talk shows.

Early years and education[edit]

Sofi-Elina Oksanen was born in Jyväskylä in central Finland, where she grew up in the Halssila district.[3] Her father is a Finnish electrician. Her mother is an Estonian engineer who grew up in Estonia during the Soviet occupation and through marriage was able to move to Finland in the 1970s.[4] Oksanen studied literature at the University of Jyväskylä and University of Helsinki and later drama at the Finnish Theatre Academy in Helsinki.[5]


Sofi Oksanen, Vienna 2022

Oksanen's first play "Purge" (Puhdistus) was staged at the Finnish National Theatre in 2007. From out of the play grew Oksanen's third novel "Purge" (2008).[6] It ranked number 1 on the bestseller list for fiction in Finland when it was published[7] 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 10 February 2011. The text was translated by Eva Buchwald and the production directed by Zishan Ugurlu.[8]

From October 2011, the play was produced in 15 countries, with productions in Norway, France, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Iceland,[9] Lithuania, Germany,[10] Ukraine,[11] and Hungary. It premiered in London at the Arcola Theatre from 22 February to 24 March with a new production directed by Elgiva Field.[12] In Canada it premiered in 2021.[13]

The novel has been adapted into a film – see "Purge" (2012) – directed by Antti Jokinen, selected as the Finnish entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards.[14]

"Purge" was adapted into an opera, composed by Jüri Reinvere, and it premiered at Finnish National Opera in 2012.[15]

Her novel "Baby Jane" has also been adapted into an opera "Baby Jane".[16] The composer is Markus Kärki. Helsingin Sanomat called it an opera event of the season.[17]

In 2012, Oksanen published a map of Soviet Gulag prison camps, drawn by Niilo Koljonen, in the National Audiovisual Archive.[18]

Her fourth novel "When the Doves Disappeared" (Kun kyyhkyset katosivat) was published on 31 August 2012 and it was the most sold Finnish novel of the year.[19] The title refers to German soldiers catching and eating all the pigeons in Tallinn during the Nazi German occupation of Estonia during World War II.[20]

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

Oksanen wrote a libretto for Kaija Saariaho's opera "Innocence." The world premiere was scheduled for 2020 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in London, but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The opera had its world premiere on July 3, 2021 at the Grand Théâtre de Provence as part of the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence.[21][22] The opera was called a "triumph" and a "masterpiece" in the press, and its international reception was overwhelmingly positive. Le Monde said it already has a place in the history of opera.[23] Oksanen's libretto was described masterly,[24] innovative,[25] palpitating [23] and thrilling. Les Echos reviewed the libretto perfect for stage and said: "From the libretto to the staging, everything promises this dark and strong work a great future in the biggest international theaters."[26] The magazine "Transfuge" praised Oksanen's libretto for it remarkable format and chilling efficiency: "Each character has its identity, its language, its drama, its specter."[27] After the world premiere the opera will travel to Finland's National Opera, Dutch National Opera, Royal Opera House (Covent Garden) and San Francisco Opera House.[28]

Oksanen has also written numerous articles published in international newspapers. The topics are often related to freedom of speech, women's rights, Russian politics, information war, immigration and Finlandization. In 2014, Die Welt published her article about information war from the point of view of former Eastern Bloc countries.[29]

Her novel, "Norma", translated by Owen F. Witesman, was published in English by Knopf in the US, Atlantic in the UK and House of Anansi in Canada.

Oksanen's novel "The Dog Park" came out in English in 2021 published by Knopf in the US, Atlantic in the UK and House of Anansi in Canada. The translator was Owen F. Witesman.

Two of her novels have been adapted into movies, "Purge" and "Baby Jane". The movie rights for "When the Doves Disappeared" and "Stalin's Cows" have been acquired.[30]

Personal life[edit]

Sofi Oksanen and her husband, Juha Korhonen, were married in 2011 in Helsinki.[31]


  • Stalin's Cows (original title Stalinin lehmät, published in Finnish 2003)
  • Baby Jane (original title Baby Jane, published in Finnish 2005)
  • Purge (original title Puhdistus, published in Finnish 2007)
  • When the Doves Disappeared (original title Kun Kyyhkyset katosivat, published in Finnish 2012)
  • Norma (original title Norma, published in Finnish 2015)
  • The Dog Park (original title Koirapuisto, published in Finnish 2019)
  • The Blue-cheeked girls (original title Siniposkiset tytöt, 2005)[32]
  • Purge (original title Puhdistus, the world premiere at the Finnish National Theatre, 2007)
  • When the Doves Disappeared (original title Kun kyyhkyset katosivat, the world premiere at the Finnish National Theatre, 2013)
  • I love you already (original title Rakastan sinua jo nyt, 2017)[33]
  • Too short skirt – tales from the kitchen (original title Liian lyhyt hame - kertomuksia keittiöstä, 2011)[34]
  • Innocence – opera by Kaija Saariaho, world premiere 2021 at the festival Aix-en-Provence
Essays in English
  • A Lion in a Cage, Eurozine, 19.5.2015[35]
  • What's it like to write about Russia, 14.6.2016, UpNorth[36]
  • Your silence will not protect you, 28.2.2018, UpNorth[37]
  • My family knew all about iron curtain: it's vital to protect our right to speak out, The Guardian, 30.5.2018[38]
  • A Soviet shadow looms over the Putin-Trump summit in Helsinki, The Guardian, 11.7.2018[38]
  • Social media can work as life insurance for Navalny, Found Me, 5.2.2021[39]


  • The Helsingin Sanomat Prize for the best debutant novel, Finland, 2003
  • Runeberg Prize, Finland, 2004[56]
  • Prix Médicis, France, 2010[57]
  • The Dublin International Literary Award (IMPAC), Ireland, 2012[58]
  • The Dublin International Literary Award (IMPAC), Ireland, 2017[59]
  • The Ambassador of Finnish Culture (The Culture Gala of the Century), Finland, 2017[60]
  • The New Academy Prize in Literature, Sweden, 2018[61]
  • Fedora Opera Prize, 2021[62]


  1. ^ "Sofi Oksanen". Salomons Agency. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  2. ^ "Koirapuisto". Salomonsson Agency. Retrieved 2 July 2023.
  3. ^ Janhonen, Ulla (8 October 2015). "Sofi Oksasen rankka sukutausta: Isoisä metsäveli, isosetä ilmiantaja". (in Finnish). Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  4. ^ Katzer, Judith (2010). "Sofi Oksanen: Thin ice threatening to crack". The International Writers Festival, Jerusalem. Haaretz. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  5. ^ "TeaK". Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  6. ^ Sihvonen, Lauri. "A Body and a Blowfly". Focus on Finnish Writers. Archived from the original on 9 July 2009. Retrieved 12 November 2008.
  7. ^ "Sofi Oksanen". Archived from the original on 24 September 2008. Retrieved 12 November 2008.
  8. ^ Helsingin Sanomat, 19 December 2010, p. C 1: "Kvartetti Euroopan kahtiajaosta" by Jukka Petäjä. — Purge at La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York Archived 2013-10-15 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Þjóðleikhúsið". 27 October 2011. Archived from the original on 13 October 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  10. ^ "Staatsschauspiel Hannover : Spielplan. REPERTOIRE A-Z > Fegefeuer". 26 January 2012. Archived from the original on 14 October 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  11. ^ "Очищення".
  12. ^ "Purge". Archived from the original on 10 August 2011. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  13. ^ "Purge".
  14. ^ Holdsworth, Nick (19 September 2012). "Finland picks 'Purge' for Oscar contest". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved 19 September 2012.
  15. ^ "Finnish National Opera to Bring 'Purge' to Stage". yle. 2010. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  16. ^ "Baby Jane".
  17. ^ "Ooppera-arvostelu | Baby Jane on syksyn oopperatapaus, traaginen kuvaus läheisriippuvuudesta". 24 October 2019.
  18. ^ "GULAG - Vankileirien saaristo". 4 December 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  19. ^ "Sofi Oksasen Kun kyyhkyset katosivat oli viime vuoden myydyin kirja". Like (in Finnish). 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  20. ^ Sofi Oksanen and Luke Harding (18 April 2015). "Sofi Oksanen: 'We know about British colonialism. Russian colonialism is not well known'" (Interview with subject). The Guardian. Retrieved 18 April 2015. The novel's title refers to German soldiers who snared and ate pigeons in the Estonian capital, Tallinn
  21. ^ "Sofi Oksanen suostui monikielisyyteen – työstää oopperatekstin Kaija Saariahon pojan kanssa". Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). 21 January 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  22. ^ Barone, Joshua (2 July 2021). "A Reigning Opera Composer Writes of Trauma and 'Innocence'". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  23. ^ a b "Opéra : à Aix-en-Provence, Kaija Saariaho se joue de " l'innocence " dans un chef-d'œuvre bouleversant". Le 5 July 2021.
  24. ^ "À Aix-en-Provence, les envoûtants sortilèges d'hier et d'aujourd'hui". 4 July 2021.
  25. ^ "Un Fauteuil Pour l'Orchestre – le site de critiques théâtrales parisien » Innocence, opéra de Kaija Saariaho, mise en scène de Simon Stone, Grand Théâtre de Provence / Festival International d'Art Lyrique d'Aix-en-Provence".
  26. ^ "Le choc d'" Innocence " à Aix-en-Provence". 5 July 2021.
  27. ^ "L'Innocence sublime à Aix". 4 July 2021.
  28. ^ Barone, Joshua (2 July 2021). "A Reigning Opera Composer Writes of Trauma and 'Innocence'". The New York Times.
  29. ^ Oksanen, Sofi (2014). "Wird der Westen Osteuropa wieder verraten?". Die Welt (in German). Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  30. ^ "Sofi Oksanen".
  31. ^ "Sofi Oksanen meni naimisiin Seurasaaressa". 8 August 2011.
  32. ^ "Siniposkiset tytöt | Audio Areena".
  33. ^ Dürr, Anke (28 January 2017). "Wien Akademietheater: "Ein europäisches Abendmahl" - Rezension". Der Spiegel.
  34. ^ "Liian lyhyt hame - Kertomuksia keittiöstä".
  35. ^ "A lion in a cage". 19 June 2015. Retrieved 2 July 2023.
  36. ^ "Sofi Oksanen: What It's Like to Write about Russia". 14 June 2016.
  37. ^ "Sofi Oksanen: Your Silence Will Not Protect You". 28 February 2017.
  38. ^ a b "The Soviet shadow that over the Putin-Trump summit in Helsinki | Sofi Oksanen". 11 July 2018.
  39. ^ "Sofi Oksanen: Social media can work as life insurance for Navalny". 5 February 2021.
  40. ^ a b "Sofi Oksanen". Salomonsson Agency. Retrieved 2 July 2023.
  41. ^ fi:Waltari-palkinto
  42. ^ "Kirjakerho näkee Sofi Oksasen jatkavan Utrion ja Hirvisaaren perinnettä". 11 November 2008.
  43. ^ "Neljä nuorta kirjailijaa sai Kalevi Jäntti -palkinnon". 24 November 2008.
  44. ^ "Runeberg-palkinto ensimmäistä kertaa Finlandia-palkinnon voittajalle". 5 February 2009.
  45. ^ "Postimehe aasta inimene 2009 – Sofi Oksanen". 17 December 2009.
  46. ^ "Kirjanik Sofi Oksanen saab Ilveselt ordeni". 3 February 2010.
  47. ^ "Sofi Oksanen has won the Nordic Council Literature Prize 2010 — Nordic cooperation". 30 March 2010. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  48. ^ "Prix Femina for Sofi Oksanen | Books from Finland". 5 November 2010.
  49. ^ "L'Éclaireur Fnac, le média du choix éclairé".
  50. ^ "Purge".
  51. ^ "Sofi Oksanen receives Pro Finlandia". 3 December 2012.
  52. ^ "Sofi Oksanen 2013 | Svenska Akademien".
  53. ^ Tiedote [dead link]
  54. ^ ".: Salerno Letteratura :. - PREMIO SALERNO LIBRO d'EUROPA". Archived from the original on 23 November 2018. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  55. ^ "Sofi Oksaselle Ranskan Arts et Lettres -ritarikunnan kunniamerkki | Like Kustannus". Retrieved 2 July 2023.
  56. ^ "Runeberg-ehdokkaat 2004 moni-ilmeisiä ja arvokkaita". Kaleva. Retrieved 2 July 2023.
  57. ^ "Oksanen Wins French Literary Prize". 2 November 2010.
  58. ^ "Book awards: International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Longlist | LibraryThing".
  59. ^ "Allen & Unwin - Australia".
  60. ^ "Vuosisadan kulttuuripalkinnoista taistelevat muun muassa Muumit, Sofi Oksanen ja Robin".
  61. ^ "The Alternative Nobel: Vote opens for a surprising new literature prize". 12 July 2018.
  62. ^ "FEDORA Platform. Press Release February 2021 SUPPORTING INNOVATION IN OPERA AND BALLET IN EUROPE A EUROPEAN NETWORK - PDF Free Download". Retrieved 2 July 2023.

External links[edit]