What happened to the Finnish youth who believed in the promise of freedom? Did the Soviet Union meet the hopes of those who fled east to escape persecution at home?
Ilja, Klara and Lavr have left their home country for the realm of freedom, vowing never to return. They have changed their names and language; they have left everything behind.
In Petrograd a person is who he says he is. Everything is undergoing change and changing everything is the highest goal. Homeless children wander the roads and streets.
The young people build families and extended families for themselves from among their comrades. They grow attached to the city, which does not respond to their affection.
When Petrograd becomes Leningrad, life begins to be difficult.
Granite Man was shortlisted for Finlandia Fiction Prize in 2014. This is how the jury stated:
“The pages of Granite Man are imbued with the spirit of the Russian classics. This novel, with its two-part narrative, is about Petrograd and the first years and decades of Leningrad. Ilya, a liberated Red prisoner of war, and his wife Klara flee from Finland to Petrograd in Russia, the land of happiness, only to find a merciless, cold and grey reality, where even close friends let them down and utopias perish. For the main characters there is no return from the bleak grey streets of Petrograd, but hope lives on in the street urchins who come to take a leading role in the story.
Sirpa Kähkönen undertook a great deal of research for this book, walking along the streets of St. Petersburg, investigating and breathing in its atmosphere, which leaves an impression on the reader. With its strong characters, the novel also grows into a humane character study of where the builders of utopias come from, what drives them and what becomes of their utopias. Sirpa Kähkönen’s Graniittimies (‘Granite Man’) opens up history to its readers via experiences and life stories, leaving them space to think for themselves.”
2014 shortlisted for Finlandia Fiction Prize
2016 shortlisted for Nordic Council Literary Prize
Foreign rights information
An excerpt in English is available
Published in Denmark (Gyldendal)
Rights sold to:
- Estonia (Varrak)
- France (Denoël)
- Sweden (Lind & Co)