The prize is worth 30,000 euros -- and traditionally guarantees strong sales in the crucial Christmas period.
Born in Helsinki in 1972, Riikka Pelo debuted in 2006 with _Taivaankantaja _(which roughly translates as Carrier of Heaven). It will be published in English in 2014. In addition to her work as a novelist, Pelo also studies film and has written several screenplays.
Her winning novel is a fictionalised account of the life of Russian poet Marina Tsvetajeva, who died during the Second World War. It focuses on her efforts to remain in contact with her daughter during a series of crises -- echoing the themes of Sofi Oksanen's award-winning novels set in Soviet-occupied Estonia.
Righting a historical wrong
Picking this year's winner from a shortlist of six was the director of the Helsinki City Theatre, Asko Sarkola.
The other finalists were Leena Krohn's Hotel Sapiens, Kjell Westö's _Kangastus 38, _ Hannu Raittila's _Terminaali, _J-P Koskinen's Ystäväni Rasputin and Asko Sahlberg's Herodes.
Westö's work, which highlighted anti-Semitism in the 1930s, was praised by Sarkola for bringing attention to a decades-old injustice that was finally corrected this year. In 1938 Jewish runner Abraham Tokazier had been denied a victory despite crossing the line first at the opening athletics meet at Helsinki's brand-new Olympic Stadium.
The Sports Federation finally corrected that earlier this year after an outcry prompted by Westö's novel.