© Otava / Katja Lösönen

Olli Jalonen


Olli Jalonen was born February 21, 1954 in Helsinki. He took a M.A. in social sciences in 1978 and a licentiate’s degree in 1985. He did research in Dublin, Ireland in 1979-80. Jalonen has lived in Finland, Sweden and Ireland, working as a reporter, information officer and researcher.

Olli Jalonen first attracted public notice in a short story competition arranged by Otava in 1978. This event led to the publication of the collection Unien tausta (The Background of Dreams). In 1979 he published his first novel Sulkaturkki (Fur of Feathers), a depiction of student life, of young people living in a community without roots. Ilo ja häpeä (Joy and Shame) is a reportage-style story based on real events, dealing with the problems that arise when people realize that they are working for the wrong ends. Hotelli eläville (A Hotel for the Living) depicts selfishness and indifference, effort and achievement, and the way people use others. Kansa kulttuurien virroissa (A People in the Currents of Culture) is Jalonen’s licentiate thesis.

The novels Johan ja Johan (Johan and Johan), Isäksi ja tyttäreksi (Becoming Father and Daughter) and Elämä, ja elämä (Life, and Life) form a trilogy, written in serene, bright language and illustrating the arbitrary character of birth, life and death. The stories of father and son, father and daughter, merge into a rich narrative texture, depicting the life and times of a whole family.

Olli Jalonen has also written for children. His fantasy novel Tuhkasaari (Ash Island) is an adventure story about a journey made by three children to hitherto unknown worlds.

Together with his wife Riitta Jalonen, Olli Jalonen has written a travel guide of Ireland for Finnish tourists.

Olli Jalonen’s work has been translated into 6 languages and published among others by Cappelen (Norway), Bonniers (Sweden) and Mareverlag (Germany).


Press quotes

Jalonen is a master at building open places into a text. His stories breathe, and each page contains an expectation, of good or evil. – Kouvolan Sanomat



  • The Background of Dreams (Unien tausta, 1978, short stories)
  • Fur of Feathers (Sulkaturkki, 1979, novel)
  • The Tourist’s Ireland (Matkailijan Irlanti, 1980, co-author Riitta Jalonen, travel guide)
  • Joy and shame (Ilo ja häpeä, 1981, novel)
  • A Hotel for the Living (Hotelli eläville, 1983, novel)
  • A People in the Currents of Culture (Kansa kulttuurien virroissa, 1985, study)
  • Ash Island (Tuhkasaari, 1987, children’s story)
  • Johan ja Johan (Johan and Johan, 1989, novel)
  • Becoming Father and Daughter (Isäksi ja tyttäreksi, 1990, novel)
  • Life, and Life (Elämä, ja elämä, 1992, novel)
  • Whose Image Do You Tell Of? (Kenen kuvasta kerrot,1996, novel)
  • Private Starry Skies (Yksityiset tähtitaivaat, 1999, novel)
  • Nine Pyramids (Yhdeksän pyramidia, 2000, novel)
  • Dyed Love (Värjättyä rakkautta, 2003, short stories)
  • Fast Moments, Slowly Woven (Hitaasti kudotut nopeat hetket, 2006, doctoral thesis)
  • 14 Knots to Greenwich (14 solmua Greenwichiin, 2008, novel)
  • The Boy Book (Poikakirja, 2010, novel)
  • Midwinter Fire (Karatolla, 2012, novel)
  • Men and People (Miehiä ja ihmisiä, 2014, novel)

Published under a pen name:

  • Hanneliina Seret, Relative Joys (Suhteellisia iloja, 1993, three novellas)
  • Sari-Helena Tenni, One Third of Doghead’s Death (Kolmasosas Koirapään kuolemasta, 1994, thriller)



  • 1979 J.H. Erkko Prize for new authors
  • 1984 Kalevi Jäntti Prize
  • 1984 State Literature Award
  • 1984 Critics’ Spurs, Union of Finnish Critics
  •  1990 Eino Leino Prize
  • 1990 State Literature Award
  • 1990 Finlandia Fiction Prize
  • 2008 shortlisted for Finlandia Fiction Prize and for Runeberg Prize
  • 2010 shortlisted for Runeberg Prize
  • 2014 shortlisted for Finlandia Fiction Prize


Works published in / Rights sold to:

Germany (Mare Verlag)
Estonia (Loomingu Raamatukogu)
Latvia (Mansards)


Published books