The Heart


A deeply touching account by a woman whose new-born son has a congenital heart defect.

The baby is diagnosed at three days old. During the weeks at the hospital following the diagnose, the mother writes in the middle of the greatest anxiety: Her baby is sick, and may die if he is not operated soon.

She withdraws from the world, existing only for her little son. Her mind clings to the physical and tangible facts: the hospital routines, the strikingly beautiful Helsinki in the winter, the handsome surgeon who is the only one to be trusted. Family, friends and everyday life are pulled backwards like a wave.

Here, everything is at stake.

The novel is based on the author’s own experiences.

 “Since then, simply being has consumed more energy. Since then, it has been harder to write, because nothing is enough. Since then, I have grasped at every single opportunity to relish the moment, like animals do: swim, eat, sweat, joke, sleep, be in the sun, in the wind. “



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  • Swedish YLE Literature Prize 2019


"It is simply as if the movements of the heart are pulsing through Kivelä's novel ... She cuts away everything superfluous and beautifying, writes very precisely, almost soberly; highlighting the passing everyday moments, like going out to buy cream for coffee with milk-stuffed breasts, or meeting one’s sleeping baby on the bed."
Hufvudstadsbladet, Finland
"The Heart is intense, profound and sincerely sympathetic story... The narration is simple, descriptive and heart-rending beautiful. It resembles to Maggie Nelson’s works, who the narrator names as one of her favorite writers."
Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, Finland
“Some novels make you look at the world from a new perspective… It’s astonishing how Malin Kivelä succeeds to include many basic living conditions in this short and well-structured novel, and in such a dense and delicate prose. The existential journey the woman undergoes during the crucial days consists so much: the bodily and the cerebral, motherhood, love and death.”
Expressen newspaper, Sweden
“Hjärtat by Malin Kivelä is a physical story that embodies trauma as a bodily and soulful experience. The narrator’s wandering in the corridors of the Children’s Hospital and the sparkling winter cold city of Helsinki are characterized by the detailed and intensive sensory perceptions. The physical presence flows through the language of the novel concurrently pulsating and tense as well as light and rhythmic. The text comes close to reader but it also has space. The scent of a newborn and writing, waiting and intensity are all dealt with the same sense of accuracy in the novel.”
Runeberg Jury
"At the center of the story is the feeling of powerlessness when facing a situation that is too great to grasp, as well as an insight into how fragile a human life is.”
Swedish YLE Literature Jury
“A compact and poetic novel that tells about a new-born’s heart defect and the author-mother’s emotional chaos. Set in Finnish winter and recognisable, modern Helsinki.”
HS Culture, Helsingin Sanomat newspaper (The 24 best books of 2019)
“The physical presence permeates via the language of the novel as its simultaneously both pulsating and intense as well as light and rhythmic. The text comes close to reader but also gives space. The novel is oozed with the scent of a newborn, writing, expectation and ardour - all dealt with the same sense of accuracy.”