Sofi Oksanen

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Sofi Oksanen
Sofia Oksanen, vinnare av Nordiska radets litteraturpris 2010.jpg
Sofi Oksanen
BornSofi-Elina Oksanen
(1977-01-07) 7 January 1977 (age 45)
Jyväskylä, Finland
Notable works Purge

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

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 upon the 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 Sofi Oksanen - Buchmesse Wien 2022 (b).JPG
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

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


Essays in English



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