Better and more beautiful, the world of the cephalopods…
Kustannusosakeyhtiö Pääjalkainen, Cephalopod Publishing Ltd in English, was founded in Turku, Finland in 2017. It is a tiny publishing company, but its aims are high. From the very beginning, Pääjalkainen has wanted to bring something new and different to the literary scene in Finland.
Pääjalkainen wants to publish meaningful literature. Meaningful doesn’t mean that it will only publish literary novels or “future classics” (whatever they might be). Entertainment can mean something, too.
Pääjalkainen is strongly against the present-day trend of letting individual books live fully for only a couple of months, then throwing them to bargain pile. We consider that foolish, both economically and ecologically. Good books deserve much more. Books deserve a lot longer lifespan.
Pääjalkainen loves books for children and young people, also the so-called young adult books . Children’s books are the most important section of all fiction. It is often the books that we read when we are children, that make us what we are, and can become.
This far, Pääjalkainen has published eight books.
Luopumisharjoituksia (~ “Exercises in letting go”) (2018) is a novel by Heli Hulmi, who lives in Helsinki. Heli Hulmi has been writing passionately all her life. She teaches writing, especially autobiographical writing. She has worked for YLE (the Finnish Boadcasting Company) as a radio documentarist. Ms. Hulmi has published short stories, a novella and non-fiction. Luopumisharjoituksia was her first full-length novel.
Ailitza eli Kävelevä maailma (~”Ailitza or A Walking Universe”) (2018) by Elina Koivunen, is a fantasy / speculative fiction novel written for teenagers. However, it deals with themes and questions that appeal (or, alternatively, might irritate) adults of any age. It is a story of a fourteen-year-old girl, Ailitza, who suddenly finds herself as an outcast from her native town, the oddly rigid town of Peri-Sokia. The town’s name comes from the peripheries of Finnish mythology. Not so universally known Peri-Sokia (~ “quite blind”) was the name of a mythical Cyclops. In the same manner, people in Peri-Sokia are fairly smart in some ways – and totally blind in some others. As Ailitza is pushed away, she starts to seek her mother — who was thrown out some thirteen years earlier, as Ailitza now finds out (to her great surprise). On the way to her mother, Ailitza is accompanied by her Granddad (or at least someone who introduces himself as her grandfather). The second storyline is about eating meat. In Peri-Sokia people don’t eat other animals. The taboo of eating other feeling and thinking creatures is strong. Ailitza is horrified when she finds out that there are carnivore humans. To eat or not to eat animals isn’t the only question as Ailitza is to find out. She gets to know a plant from the family of yarrow (Achillea millefolium). It has no name, as plants are not really individuals. A yarrow is only one small part of the totality of all yarrows. And plants can also mourn, when they are picked and devoured… Ailitza eli Kävelevä maailma is meant to be the first part of a trilogy that deals with connections between humans, (other) animals and plants. If things go as planned, the second book will come out in 2021 or early 2022. The storylines for both the sequels are set, but as writers well know, new and interesting subplots may arise on the way.
Elena Ferranten salaisuus ja muita esseitä (~ “The secret of Elena Ferrante and other essays”) (2019) by Elina Koivunen is a small selection of essays that deal with writing, philosophy and cannibalism, to mention just a few of the topics. The main essay is about the mysterious Italian best-seller writer, Elena Ferrante. The book is illustrated by the author.
Oranssia ja sitten pimeää (~ “First something orange, then comes darkness”) (2019) by Alina Vaatturi is a detective story set in the town of Turku. As a crime book, it is an old-fashioned puzzle with a twist. On the surface, it looks like the very old story of a missing schoolgirl. In this case, the girl Aime Taljamo comes from a prosperous, privileged family. Below the surface, there is quite another story, as Verne Pörninen and Helinä Reunanen, the not-likely non-detective amateur duo will eventually find out. Verne happens to be Aime’s uncle, Helinä is a female parson, and both are single. As it happens, Aime’s disappearance brings them together — although they might not realize this yet. In this book, the town Turku is almost like one of the characters. Turku was founded so long ago, that nobody really knows when (probably on the 13th century), and for a long time it was the second largest town in the kingdom of Sweden (only Stockholm was bigger). By the time Finland became independent in 1917, Helsinki had surpassed it as a capital (during the Russian regime, Helsinki was closer to St. Petersburg, while Turku was close to the old master, Sweden). Turku has never been the nominal capital of independent Finland, but it has kept its flavor and soul by the Aura river and close to the fascinating Finnish archipelago — that starts almost from its town center. Alina Vaatturi’s detective story is celebrating that fact, among other things.
Kuinka kirjailijaksi tullaan (2020) is the Finnish translation of Dorothea Brande’s American classic from the 1930’s, Becoming a Writer. Brande’s book is wise in many ways, as it deals with the problems and challenges of creative writing.
Raskaita Runoja ( ~ Heavy Poems) by Mika Suojanen (2020) is Pääjalkainen’s first poetry book. Dr. Mika Suojanen is a Finnish philosopher whose special interest lays on the research of experience. Besides literature, Suojanen works with video art and performances. Raskaita Runoja is his first poetry book. https://mikasuojanenphilosophy.wordpress.com
Okko Ilmonen ja Ukkonen by Elina Komulainen is quite a clever psychological picture book. The delicious illustrations are by Johanne Jasmine. Ilmari Ukkonen is a tiny snowman, fresh from the last snowy day. He is so envious of the full-size, confident snowman Okko Ilmonen (who lies next to him and who has been into so many adventures). Growing bigger is no small task!
Pettämätön kauneudentaju by Iiti Elomaa is a biographical novel about Erik Johan Löfgren, who was a very well known romantic Finnish artist in the 1800s. These days only few people recognise Löfgren’s name, but hopefully this well-researched but also quite entertaining novel will correct that.