"One of the most interesting Finnish novels of the year." – Suomen Kuvalehti magazine
"Essi Kummu writes beautifully and uncompromisingly about delicate issues." – Kaleva newspaper
"Essi Kummu’s text is open in an unconventional way. It is as free as a person who has the courage to meet someone without self-protective filters or the mechanisms of self-representation. It is honest and without the fear of intrusive insecurities, which makes me think of Maggie Nelson’s writing." – Reader Why I Married Him – blog
Loiste, Tammi 2020
SHORTLISTED AS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2020
A brutally honest story about love, belonging and the urge to write.
The glow in your eyes and in everything we’ve had and still have. When you stand near the water, gaze at it and then get undressed. We’ve argued once again, but you don’t care; you just walk into the water after making one more decision, alone and naked.
Two women fall in love. The feeling is unprecedented, overwhelming. It makes the world seem different, more beautiful. But at the same time, it forces the other into the role of narrator. She has to hide her love and feel ashamed of it, even though she has never felt anything like it before. Glow is about finding the right dress and role as an artist. It is a story about books and writing as well as reading them and about how difficult it actually is to speak up and use your own voice. It is the story of a love affair between two women, a story that is born and dies under the weight of a secret.
"Glow is just the kind of book I love; small but extravagant; a grand book. The story does not proceed chronologically but moves like a sigh or prayer. It is a touching description of the love of two women and the internalized prohibition that rises above it. … Glow is an exceptional, authentic description of a new family – about how the love between two people brings together strangers, an entire network, in good and in bad. Although northern in essence, like Liksom and Mukka, Kummu has provided a new voice and form." – Sirpa Kähkönen, author
"… [In Glow] falling in love is not confined to being lovely and beautiful; it is also depicted as distressing and scary. The two (women) in love are surrounded by children, former partners, relatives, a culture that sacralizes the nuclear family concept. The protagonist details her mental turmoil with painful objectivity. Essi Kummu has experienced falling in love with a woman who has a family. She nevertheless writes emphatic, universal prose. On the side, she draws a crude picture of the literary world, where some thrive as others try to make ends meet." – Tommi Melender, literary critic, author, Suomen Kuvalehti magazine
"This book knocked me flat. Because it was so vividly written, it was hard to put down. I was totally hooked on it. I also wanted to read about the books the author had read and commented on inside the story." – Mari’s literary blog
"The novel is about issues of gender, looks and power. The author argues that literary publicity is gender-biased." – Kaleva newspaper
SO LONG, BOYS
Hyvästi pojat, Tammi 2017
NOMINATED FOR THE BOTHNIA PRIZE 2017
A strikingly candid portrait of a woman whose life is thrown into turmoil.
As the school summer holidays kick into gear, the atmosphere in the home of a writer from Northern Finland becomes charged, and not in a good way. There is one daughter who never stops talking, and another daughter who has stopped talking altogether. And then there is their mother, the writer, divorced, who wants nothing more than to be left in peace. And maybe somebody to love.
Yeah, right: men, and boys. There have been quite a few of them, but each has had some fundamental flaw. One is cold when she wants warmth, another is always buzzing around her; a third, well, he just doesn’t float her boat any which way. These days, intimacy with any of them somehow feels just...wrong.
Hence the writer reaches a decision: “So long, boys. It was fun.” And falls madly in love with a woman.
Written in autobiographical style, Essi Kummu’s fourth novel So Long, Boys is a delicious description of a single-parent family, teenage angst, life as an artist, and a relationship circus.
I was not sure about So long, boys because of its genre, which is autofiction. I expected it might contain some grinchy thoughts about the meaning of art and literary work, but instead it was bursting with humor, at times very black." – Blue Bookshelf literary blog
”The Story of My Children is a novel about a big subject. And Essi Kummu seems to tell it shockingly honestly.” – Mervi Kantokorpi, Helsingin Sanomat newspaper
THE STORY OF MY CHILDREN
Lasteni tarina, Tammi 2014
Why shouldn’t every little girl have the right to hear the story of her birth in the way it should be told? My little girl including. It starts here.
One morning an 8-year-old daughter comes to her mother and asks her if she had been lovely as a baby. The author can’t tell her daughter the story of her birth because she doesn’t remember it. But a birth story is vital.
So begins a story of becoming a mother to prematurely born twins. The connection between the human seedlings, sleeping in the aquariums of the ER, and their mother begins as a frail thread. When Kummu opens up about the stage of her life ten years ago, it is hard to offer negative criticism. The milk carton-sized babies survived after resuscitations, surgeries, brain hemorrhages and other overwhelming difficulties and they become normal, bickering children. The Story of My Children goes where fathers and mothers understand each other’s anguish without regard to how happy their own early childhood was.
The book is an intimate story of recovery. After its publishing, the book was part of a public discussion about the taboos and unspoken sides of motherhood. It expands from the question that started it all to a discourse about falling in love and whether loving is unavoidable even with the threat of losing.
"The work exudes dark light. It contains an opportunity to do and choose something totally different." – Jani Saxell, Kiiltomato magazine
Essi Kummu’s writing is so honest and bare that it is almost frightening. It has been a long time since I have read anything this real. Its fresh realism is balanced with a magical and mythical element that is powerfully primordial. I think the book will stay with me for a long time. – Kirjamieli, literary blog
DEATH OF THE BEAR
Karhun kuolema, Tammi 2010
SHORTLISTED FOR TIILISKIVI PRIZE 2011
The bear would come to her; she would become the bear’s own and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
Even as a child Stella used to have conversations with the spirits, and she knew her heart belonged to just one.
She is the bride of a bear.
One day, to the terror of the villagers, the bear finally appears behind Stella’s front door. The fight between life and death begins. Death of a Bear is a story about leaving and belonging. It is an intensely sensual depiction of what it feels like to stand on the line between permissible and forbidden – and to eventually give yourself a permission to say yes instead of no.
"You can also read Death of a bear as an arctic version of the magical realism of Latin America, as a fantasy novel or as a deep-psychological story."
"Although Kummu’s novel feels archaic and is apolitical, it is nevertheless current and weirdly political. It can be read with either an ecological or a feminist emphasis."
"Like a folk song, the phrases resemble hymns or prayers. It reminds me of Kristina Carlson’s epical impressionism and ability to create concrete milieus without describing the wallpaper or furniture. Kummu depicts the pressure of the community and the condemnation of scapegoats."
– Jani Saxell, Kiiltomato magazine
Mania, Tammi 2006
On February 22nd 1999, a Finn, Laura Virta, shoots three men and wounds a fourth at the Helsinki Shooting Club, leaving the victims with permanent injuries. When arrested, however, she cannot recall the event. Mania is a story about the shooter’s gradually returning memories during the 25 days of pretrial custody – bit by bit Laura finds her way back to what truly happened on the day of the shooting, and why. The novel is based on true events.
In all its mundaneness the world depicted by Kummu is frighteningly true. – Kiiltomato magazine
The melancholy reality of the novel is balanced by a light and poetic narrative and will stay with you for a long time. – Marja-Riitta Vainikkala, Kaleva newspaper