Rights & Brands Podcast episode 9: Johanna Laitila recomposes historical Helsinki in melodic narrative

29 Jan 2021

The year 2021 brings along a renewed Rights and Brands podcast. In this episode, multi-talented Johanna Laitila, one of our newest authors sits down to talk about her second novel Hatching (Synty) together with her agent Leenastiina Kakko. This episode is special as it also introduces the new intriguing “Quick Five”, a quick-fire round of questions that reveal a bit more about our guest.  

HATCHING is a chilling and stirring literary novel about the complexity of gender in an era where there were no words for the experience. Set in the historical scenery of 1917’s Helsinki the novel leads the reader to the doorstep of Aleksanteri, a German translator who lives a secluded life. He spends his days in a small apartment located by the seaside of Finland’s boiling capital where daily life is becoming increasingly grim. He immerses himself in playing Chopin on the piano and translation work and is wrapped up in inner thoughts about the surrounding world. Two women – housekeeper Hilda and lover Elna are his only connections to the outside world until his attention is caught by a mysterious new neighbour, a Russian journalist. The two soon form a peculiar and conflicting relationship as they become entangled in a power struggle where irresistible addiction and contradictory hatred constantly crosses to lust. The intense events of the story wrap around historic turning points with two revelations that await the reader.

HATCHING was one of the three novels shortlisted for the 2020 Toisinkoinen Literary Prize, awarded for second novels. The jury complimented it for being “bold enough in drawing a fairly delicate picture of the thirst for power as well as of the forces eating vitality and pushing under.” It was also longlisted for the 202Runeberg Prize, one of Finland most prominent literary awards in Finland.

Johanna Laitila tells how she left behind an academic career in Scotland when she returned to Finland to pursue a writing career, and how her years in the academic world reflect on her writing. She also shares her thoughts on the significance of language in her works, what was the inspiring seed to the storyline and the process of re-writing the English version of the story.

 “It’s this process of letting go of the original and I think having written the original text as well, it was quite a sort of beautiful process of saying goodbye to the original text and letting go of it,” describes the author.

She also sheds light on her upcoming third novel. The new format the “Quick Five” wraps up the episode, but what does artist Nick Cave have to do with it?

Listen to find out!

Rights and Brands podcast features insightful talks with Nordic authors represented by Rights and Brands. Together with their agent Leenastiina Kakko guest authors chat about their books, reveals the stories and inspiration behind them and everything in between. If you are intrigued to hear more and discover the interesting voices in Nordic literature, this is the podcast for you. The podcast is available at AcastSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, and iTunes.