The Boy Book


Finland in 1960’s, told through a schoolboy’s eyes – a truly mesmerising portrait of a country at the intersection of the old and the modern

Olli is an ordinary grade-school pupil who likes to read his Little Giant Book of Knowledge, play pinball, and make home-made bombs with his buddies. He has four sisters; Anna-Liisa and the twins are older, and Little is a year younger. Little doesn’t go to school and is different from other people.

The scars of the War are as much a part of the reality of 1960s Finland as the Animals singing House of the Rising Sun. While their teacher fantasises about expanding the country’s borders to create a “Greater Finland”, the Mars flights of the superpowers are shaping the boys’ understanding of the world.

That world is portrayed in a way both universal and specific to its time, including girls and love as well as the mercilessly rough rules of the playground.  Details are real and present, and secrets are never, ever revealed.

“As soon as recess began, the teacher sent the Elephant out of the classroom and into the hallway for penance. A man should hold his head high, not act like a worm, he said, looking at each of us row by row.”



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  • Runeberg Prize 2011