Winner of 2020 Petrona Award announced – a first for Finnish crime
The winner of the 2020 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year is:
LITTLE SIBERIA by Antti Tuomainen, translated from the Finnish by David Hackston and published by Orenda Books.
As well as a trophy, Antti Tuomainen receives a pass to and a guaranteed panel at CrimeFest 2022. Antti Tuomainen and David Hackston will also receive a cash prize.
The judges’ statement on LITTLE SIBERIA:
Antti Tuomainen’s LITTLE SIBERIA stood out on the shortlist for all of the judges. From its arresting opening, in which a meteorite unexpectedly lands on a speeding car, to its very human depiction of a pastor grappling with private and theological crises, this is a pitch-perfect comic crime novel with considerable depth and heart.
The first Finnish crime novel to receive the Petrona Award, LITTLE SIBERIA is a particularly fitting winner for 2020 – a year in which life was turned upside down. A celebration of resilience, fortitude and simply muddling through, it is a novel for our times.
David Hackston’s fine translation captures LITTLE SIBERIA’S depictions of an icy northern Finland and its darkly comic tone, skilfully showcasing the writing of one of Scandinavia’s most versatile and original crime authors. LITTLE SIBERIA is published by Orenda Books, one of the UK’s foremost independent publishers, which consistently champions international and translated crime fiction.
Comments from the winning author, translator and publisher:
Antti Tuomainen (author):
To make a long story short, I have to make it long first. A few years ago, after publishing five very dark and very noir books, I felt there was an element within me I had to bring into my writing: humour. Before my first darkly funny book The Man Who Died was published I was very nervous. Was I making a big mistake? One of those career choices you read about in artists’ biographies under the chapter title ‘The Fall’? Not that anyone would write about me, as I would be forgotten, found much later in a basement room, alone, perished in the middle of a last ‘humorous’ sentence … Happily, I was wrong, and not for the first time. Which seems to bring us to Little Siberia. It is my eighth book and now the recipient of the prestigious Petrona Award. When I set out to write a darkly comical crime novel with a priest as main character, I knew I was taking a leap – again. Alas, here we are. I want to thank David Hackston and Karen Sullivan, both incomparable and indispensable, as without them all the jury would have had was a book in Finnish with no idea who sent it. I send my warmest thank you to the ladies and gentleman of the jury. Oh, and that shorter story: after fifteen years of writing and nine books, it seems I’m finally an overnight success.
David Hackston (translator):
I’m extremely honoured to receive the Petrona Award 2020, not least because of the illustrious, formidable company on the shortlist. Many congratulations to all the authors and especially to my fellow translators – my co-conspirators in bringing Nordic writing to English-speaking readers. My thanks to the panel and a huge, heartfelt thank you to Orenda Books, without whom none of this would be possible. Of course, behind every good translation is an excellent original text, and in this respect Antti Tuomainen is the gift that keeps on giving. Kiitos, Antti; thanks for the laughs thus far. Long may it continue.
Karen Sullivan (publisher):
We are honoured and absolutely thrilled by the news that Little Siberia has won this prestigious award – quite possibly the only designated award for Scandinavian Crime Fiction in English – and it feels fitting that in such a difficult year, Antti’s beautifully written, funny, philosophical and exquisitely plotted thriller has been chosen. Antti has pushed the crime genre in so many exciting directions, and I applaud the judges for making such a bold and perfect choice. It can be no easy feat to translate Finnish and yet David Hackston has once again produced an elegant, pitch-perfect translation, and we are so delighted that his work has been rewarded in this way.
The judges would also like to highly commend THE SILVER ROAD by Stina Jackson, translated from the Swedish by Susan Beard and published by Corvus (Atlantic Books).
The Petrona team would like to thank our sponsor, David Hicks, for his generous support of the 2020 Petrona Award.
This is the eighth year of the Petrona Award. Previous winners are Liza Marklund for LAST WILL, translated by Neil Smith, LINDA, AS IN THE LINDA MURDER by Leif G.W. Persson, also translated by Neil Smith, THE SILENCE OF THE SEA by Yrsa Sigurđardóttir, translated by Victoria Cribb, THE CAVEMAN by Jørn Lier Horst, translated by Anne Bruce, WHERE ROSES NEVER DIE by Gunnar Staalesen, translated by Don Bartlett, QUICKSAND by Malin Persson Giolito, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles, and THE KATHARINA CODE by Jørn Lier Horst, translated by Anne Bruce.
The 2020 Petrona Award shortlist in full with the judges’ comments:
THE COURIER by Kjell Ola Dahl tr. Don Bartlett (Orenda Books; Norway)
Kjell Ola Dahl made his debut in 1993, and has since published seventeen novels, most notably those in the ‘Gunnarstranda and Frølich’ police procedural series. In 2000, he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix, and the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. In much the same way as Icelandic author Arnaldur Indriðason, Dahl explores the experience of the Second World War by moving away from the linear murder mystery to something far more searching and emotionally driven. The Courier is an intelligent and absorbing standalone that offers a perceptive and highly moving exploration of Scandinavian history. It traverses changing times and cultural norms, and traces the growing self-awareness of a truly memorable female protagonist.
INBORN by Thomas Enger, tr. Kari Dickson (Orenda Books; Norway)
Thomas Enger worked for many years for Norway’s first online newspaper, Nettavisen, and as an author is best-known for his five novels featuring the journalist-sleuth Henning Juul, one of which – Pierced – was shortlisted for the Petrona Award in 2013. He has also won prizes for his thrillers for young adults. Inborn, his first standalone novel to be translated into English, tells the story of a murder trial from the perspective of the seventeen-year-old defendant, and combines a gripping courtroom drama with a tender and intriguing portrait of Norwegian small-town life, and the secrets bubbling away beneath its surface.
THE CABIN by Jørn Lier Horst, tr. Anne Bruce (Michael Joseph; Norway)
Having previously worked as a police officer, Jørn Lier Horst has established himself as one of the most successful Scandinavian authors of the last twenty years. Horst’s previous ‘William Wisting’ novel, The Katharina Code, won the 2019 Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel, as well as the Nordic Noir Thriller of the Year in 2018. The Cabin sees Chief Inspector Wisting juggling the demands of two testing cases, leading him into the path of an old adversary and plunging him into the criminal underworld. Horst has once again produced an impeccably crafted police procedural with a deft control of pace and tension.
THE SILVER ROAD by Stina Jackson, tr. Susan Beard (Corvus; Sweden)
The Silver Road is Stina Jackson’s highly accomplished debut. It has achieved remarkable success, winning the 2018 Award for Best Swedish Crime Novel, the 2019 Glass Key Award, and the 2019 Swedish Book of the Year Award. Set in northern Sweden, where Jackson herself grew up, the novel explores the aftermath of teenager Lina’s disappearance, and her father Lelle’s quest to find her by driving the length of the Silver Road under the midnight sun. Three years on, young Meja arrives in town: her navigation of adolescence and first-time love will lead her and Lelle’s paths to cross. The Silver Road is a haunting depiction of grief, longing and obsession, with lots of heart and a tremendous sense of place.
THE ABSOLUTION by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, tr. Victoria Cribb (Hodder & Stoughton; Iceland)
A full-time civil engineer as well as a prolific writer for both adults and children, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir is one of Iceland’s best-selling and most garlanded crime novelists, and the winner of the 2015 Petrona Award for The Silence of the Sea. The Absolution is the third entry in her ‘Children’s House’ series, and features a very modern killer who targets teenagers with an MO involving Snapchat. This artfully plotted and thought-provoking book continues the series’ focus on the long-lasting impact of childhood trauma, with welcome light relief provided by the mismatched investigators, detective Huldar and child psychologist Freyja.
LITTLE SIBERIA by Antti Tuomainen, tr. David Hackston (Orenda Books; Finland)
Antti Tuomainen is a versatile crime writer, whose works draw on genres as varied as the dystopian thriller and comedy crime caper. His third novel, The Healer, won the Clue Award for Best Finnish Crime Novel in 2011 and he has been shortlisted for the Glass Key, Petrona and Last Laugh Awards, as well as the CWA Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger. Little Siberia, set in an icy northern Finland, opens with a bang when a meteorite unexpectedly lands on a speeding car. Transferred to the local museum for safe keeping, the valuable object is guarded from thieves by local pastor Joel, who is grappling with both a marital crisis and a crisis of faith. Absurdist black humour is expertly combined with a warm, perceptive exploration of what it means to be human.
Images of the Petrona Award logo and the shortlisted titles are available at:
(copy & paste link into browser)
The judges are:
Jackie Farrant – Crime fiction expert and creator of RAVEN CRIME READS; bookseller for nineteen years and a Regional Commercial Manager for a major book chain in the UK.
Dr. Kat Hall – Translator and editor; Honorary Research Associate at Swansea University; international crime fiction reviewer at MRS. PEABODY INVESTIGATES.
Jake Kerridge – Journalist and literary critic. He has been the crime fiction reviewer of the Daily Telegraph since 2005 and has judged many crime and thriller prizes.
Karen Meek – owner of the EURO CRIME website, reviewer, former CWA judge for the International Dagger, and Library Assistant.
More information can be found on the Petrona Award website (http://www.petronaaward.co.uk).