Summary: Onnimanni 3/2019

Onnimanni 3/2019.

The autumn issue of Onnimanni is dedicated to middle-grade and YA novels.

Finnish YA authors still face demands on how and what they can write about for young people. Subjects, such as school bullying, are perceived suitable only for YA books although the scars caused by bullying affect many adults’ everyday lives.

Kaisa Laaksonen and Seija Haapakoski has talked to the staff at the institute’s Nordic and European sister organisations about popular YA novels and current research projects in their respective countries. Interestingly, books for young people tend to become increasingly visual. International trends keep influencing national literatures. Fantasy and dystopic novels are still popular genres. However, the Swedish and Estonian lists of most read books also include 10- to 20-year-old titles!

In her article about the American classic The Outsiders (1967) by S. E. Hinton, Leena Laakso shows how certain themes have kept being repeated in YA books during half a century. Hinton’s novel changed the status of YA novels among the literary elite. S. E. Hinton is also an early example of how to brand a young, emerging writer. The publisher believed that the novel would attract more interest if the female author were presented only with initials so as not to reveal her gender. Hinton’s depiction of loyal friendship still speaks to young people, at least to the pupils of Hatanpää secondary school in Tampere.

Uolevi Nojonen’s (b. 1939) debut YA novel Sigmund Freudin kaamea flunssa appeared only two years after Hinton’s classic. Päivi Nordling has read all of Nojonen’s works. She finds them still interesting from a modern day perspective, since they deal with topical themes such as sexuality, dating culture, ethnicity and family relations. Whereas the strength of Hinton’s novel is to leave parents out of young people’s lives, Nojonen’s books portray young protagonists who struggle with their parental relations.

During the past years, book covers have become increasingly important for attracting young adult readers. Two graphic designers, Laura Lyytinen from the publisher Tammi and Riikka Turkulainen from WSOY, share the history behind two new YA book covers. Global trends influence the choice of colour, imagery, fonts and other visual decisions. Now, book covers where the letters play the leading role are trending.

Merja Leppälahti reports from the main event for Finnish fantasy fans, Finncon, which took place in Jyväskylä this June. She also presents three interesting new Finnish writers. Maria Laakso reports from the IRSCL conference in Stockholm this August.

Lotta Luukila presents the Lukuklaani-project’s book donations funded by The Finnish Cultural Foundation and executed by The Finnish Institute for Children’s Literature. All Finnish secondary schools have received a donation of 112 new YA books in order to encourage reading among young people.

The Puntari supplement covers reviews of non-fiction, middle-grade and YA novels.

Translation Maria Lassén-Seger