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Poet Jukka Viikilä nabs Finlandia Prize with debut novel

Poet and first-time novelist Jukka Viikilä was declared the winner of the 2016 Finlandia Prize for Literature Thursday afternoon. Viikilä’s debut novel, "Watercolours from the City of Engel" beat a field that included five other seasoned writers.

Jukka Viikilä Finlandia-palkintojen jakotilaisuudessa torstaina.
Jukka Viikilä, winner of the 2016 Finlandia Prize for Literature. Image: Jarno Kuusinen / AOP

Finland’s biggest book award, the Finlandia Prize, was handed out Thursday afternoon at the Finnish National Theatre in downtown Helsinki.

Television personality Baba Lybeck selected Jukka Viikilä’s freshman novel, Watercolours from the City of Engel, as this year’s winner of the main award, the Finlandia Prize for Literature. Viikilä is also a poet and playwright, who has previously published two poetry collections.

In fact the winning work of fiction was originally written as a radio play for Yle. The novel explores the city of Helsinki through the eyes of architect Carl Johan Engel 200 years ago.

Viikilä was up against Tommi Kinnunen, Riku Korhonen, Sirpa Kähkönen, Emma Puikkonen and Peter Sandström for the 30,000-euro prize.

Chinese children and first love

This year was the first time that the awards for fiction, non-fiction and juvenile literature were distributed at the same time.

Writer-actor-politician Jörn Donner selected journalist Mari Manninen's study of China's one-child policy for the non-fiction Finlandia, while the Finlandia Junior went to You Won't Walk Alone, a book on falling in love by Juuli Niemi.

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