© Otava / Jouni Harala

Anna-Leena Härkönen


Anna-Leena Härkönen (b. 1965) studied both in the Theater Academy and the Department of Drama at the University of Tampere. She graduated in 1989. She lives in Helsinki and works as an independent writer and actor.

In 1984 she published her first novel, The Poleax (Häräntappoase), and achieved enormous critical and popular success with it. The book is a tale of a boy who wants to travel to Stockholm after finishing school. His mother, however, arranges for him to spend the summer in the heart of the Finnish countryside. The author uses a language which is bursting with life, and she has an uncompromising sense of the comic. The Poleax has been on the market ever since.

For nearly twenty years Anna-Leena Härkönen has been among the most prominent figures in Finnish cultural life, whether as an author, scriptwriter, or as a successful stage and screen actress. Her work has been translated into 11 languages. Her novels have been made into several films and stage productions, among them the six-part television series The Poleax which has been broadcast several times. Claes Olsson directed a full-length feature film based on her work Aquarium Love. In addition, the television series Taking Turns at visiting, which she co-authored, received an award as the year’s best in 1997.


Press quotes

Härkönen writes with both ironic humour and heartbreaking emotion. – Ilkka



  • Poleax (Häräntappoase), novel, 1984
  • A Soldier’s Tale (Sotilaan tarina) , novel, 1986
  • Aquarium Love (Akvaariorakkautta), novel, 1990
  • If Somebody Asked Me (Jos joku kysyis multa) lyrics, 1991
  • This Is Heaven, This Is Earth (Tässä taivas, tässä maa), edited, love songs, 1993
  • Carousel Ride (Karusellimatka), short stories, 1993
  • Open House (Avoimien ovien päivä), novel, 1998
  • Kauhun tasapaino ja muita kirjoituksia, colums, 1999
  • The Essence of Nosh – 42 Recipies, 687 Thoughts (Sopan syvin olemus. 42 ruokaohjetta, 687 ajatusta) illustrated by Pentti Otsamo, 2000
  • Faintly Positive (Heikosti positiivinen) novel, 2001
  • Greetings From a Sea of Balls (Terveisiä pallomerestä), 2004
  • End-Products (Loppuunkäsitelty), novel 2005
  • Midsummer Visitor (Juhannusvieras), novel, 2006
  • Palele porvari – ja muita kirjoituksia, columns, 2007
  • No Thanks (Ei kiitos), novel, 2008
  • Vääränlainen mies, lauluja (lyrics), 2010
  • An Hour of Happiness (Onnen tunti), 2011
  • Laskeva neitsyt ja muita kirjoituksia, columns, 2013
  • Lotto Luck (Kaikki oikein), 2014



  •  1984 J.H. Erkko Prize (The Poleax)
  • 1985 Thanks for the Book Award
  • 1985 The Province of Oulu Art Award
  • 1991 SSKK recognition award
  • 1994 SSKK recognition award
  • 1998 SSKK: recognition award
  • 2005 Helsinki area Mental Health Association’s recognition award
  • 2008 Image magazine’s New Finnish National Author vote winner
  • 2014 The Veijo Meri Prize


Works published in / Rights sold to:

Sweden (Norstedts)
Germany (Heiner Labonde Verlag, Klett-Cotta)
Greece (Patakis Publications)
Hungary (Pallas-Académia)
Romania (Editura Fundatiei)

Published books