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Finlandia fiction prize goes to Pajtim Statovci

Finnish author Statovci, who was recently shortlisted for the prestigious National Book Award, snagged Finland's top prize for fiction.

Born in Kosovo, Finnish author Pajtim Statovci won the 2019 Finlandia Prize for fiction. Image: Jouni Immonen / Yle

Finland’s most prestigious book awards for fiction, non-fiction and junior literature were awarded by the Finnish Book Foundation (Suomen Kirjasäätiö) in Helsinki on Wednesday afternoon at the Bio Rex Theatre.

The fiction award went to Pajtim Statovci for Bolla (Otava), which the jury called "a shocking and touching novel that enchants with its power of expression."

The book is set partly in Kosovo, the country of Statovci's birth. The author moved to Finland when he was two-years-old.

The winner was chosen by Yle’s CEO Merja Ylä-Anttila. Statovci has been garnering rave reviews for his work around the world, including a recent nomination for the prestigious National Book Award for his second novel The Crossing.

The non-fiction award was chosen by economist and author Sixten Korkman and went to Metsä meidän jälkeemme ("The Forest after Us), which was published by Like and written by journalists Anssi Jokiranta, Pekka Juntti, Anna Ruohonen and Jenni Räinä.

The jury praised the book as a: “A topical, non-judgmental and multi-faceted book about the state of Finnish forests and climate change, where people's natural perceptions, experiences and emotions, as well as expert knowledge, merge with each other in a natural and natural way."

The Finlandia Junior Literary Prize, chosen by musician Olavi Uusivirta went to Marisha Rasi-Koskinen for Auringon pimeä puoli ("The Dark Side of the Sun") published by WSOY.

The jury called the book intended for young adults "an ambitious and multilevel novel takes its readers on a journey of time and challenges you to wonder if linear time is the only way to conceive of life."

Each award is accompanied by 30,000 euros of prize money, and winning the Finlandia can also boost book sales in the lead-up to Christmas.