The Beautifully Curving Lips of Ella Milana and the Male Gaze: a brief explanation

The reader’s name was Ella Amanda Milana. She was twenty-six years old and the possessor of a pair of beautifully curving lips and a pair of defective ovaries, among other parts. ( – – )

She’d made a mental inventory.

First off, she had good lips. Her fingers were said to be delicate and beautiful. Her face couldn’t be called beautiful, as she had sometimes been reminded, but it was a pleasant face, sensitive, even appealing. She could see that for herself in the mirror. And a lover had once detected something artistic in the colour of her nipples – -.

 

Some of my readers have found this description of the protagonist of The Rabbit Back Literature Society, Ella Milana, to be somewhat disturbing. I have even heard that this piece of writing of mine is a good (= bad) example of the male gaze and sexism in books written by men.

It is true that in many parts of the novel, especially in the beginning, Ella Milana sees her own physical appearance through male gaze and in any case she really doesn’t feel good about herself. Apparently it’s quite possible to read these parts as clumsy writing and a sign of sexism of the male author but all this was originally meant to describe Ella Milana’s state of mind. So, it’s basically a question of focalization. In this case it belongs to Ella Milana, no to the author.

Let me explain: The working title of this very first novel of mine was The Disintegration (of Laura White). There are at least two women in the novel who are experiencing some degree of psychic disintegration: mysterious Laura White (who literally disintegrates and disappears into the whirl of snow at her parties) and this young teacher Ella Milana, who learns in the very beginning that she can never have a child and soon after that also loses her fiance. Her future as she imagined it changes drastically and before she is finally able to get herself together and becomes a true writer, her self-image takes some serious damage and goes to pieces. She doesn’t trust herself anymore and thus, for a while, she only is able to see herself through other people’s eyes, not as a whole person as she should see but as an incoherent collection of separate features evaluated by other people – in other words, she ends up objectifying herself.

So, the way I chose to describe this young woman, Ella Milana, isn’t so much a sign of my sexism as it is my sincere attempt to describe the mechanisms of a human psyche when a person loses her self-confidence and self-coherence as a result of a personal crisis (and maybe also partly because of the modern day consumer or patriarchal culture around her) and starts to see herself solely through other people’s eyes.

I think many of us writers have experienced something like this at some point of our lives. Being an outsider, a stranger in your own life – experiences like that can make you see everything, including yourself, differently; in a way through the eyes of an alien.

And that’s how writers are born.

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An offer to book bloggers: Would you like to have a literary business card with author’s signature?

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I’m afraid I rarely have opportunities to sign copies of my translated books for my foreign readers but now there is a way to get my autograph on your copy of my book: I ordered some business cards with the cover of my brand new Finnish novel (Väärän kissan päivä, or in English, The Day of a Wrong Cat) on the other side and my photo and a place for a personalized autograph on the other, and would like to send them to the book bloggers of the world who have written blog posts about my translated works. If you would like to have a signed business card you could attach to your copy of the book (written by me, naturally, otherwise it would’t make much sense, would it), please ask for one and I’ll send it to you.

If you would like to host a little giveaway and forward literary business cards signed by me to the readers of your blog, you can have 1 – 9 cards for that purpose.

So, if you are a blook blogger and you have written a blog post about some of my translated works and if you are interested in having some of these cards, this is how it happens:

  • Tweet a link to your blog post and tag me to it – @paziij – and send me a private message and tell me your name and address and the number of cards you would like to have (and to whom would you like me to address the signature)

OR

 

Unfortunately I only have a limited number of those cards for now but at least the first 20 book bloggers will get their signed literary business cards!

The Day of a Wrong Cat: my new novel (only in Finnish, for now)

So, I am to publish my new, fourth novel Väärän kissan päivä (in English its title would be The Day of a Wrong Cat) very soon, in August 2017. It’s going to look like this:

 

It’s kind of a detective story of a man whose mother escapes from a nursing home during highly experimental treatment for her dementia. The novel takes place in a single day during which the protagonist must face several strange and frightening truths (or are they lies?) about his own and his mother’s life – and numerous creepy cats that seem to lurk everywhere in the city of Marrasvirta that is celebrating its annual Great Autumn Festival. He and his mother used to so close in his early childhood but then something happened and somehow soul mates became strangers that barely could talk to each other anymore. In spite of all the scary things and revealing secrets he must face, this is his very last and best opportunity to learn to know his mother once again…

Probably this fourth novel of mine will be translated sooner or later but meanwhile you, my dear English speaking readers, will have an opportunity to read my second novel Secret Passages in a Hillside Town (originally published in 2010 under the Finnish title Harjukaupungin salakäytävät). Pushkin Press is going to publish it in 7th of December 2017.

Secret Passages in a Hillside Town: autumn 2017

Pushkin Press has acquired the latest novel by “one of Finland’s best kept secrets”, Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen.

Adam Freudenheim acquired world English rights from Rita Karlsson at the Kontext Agency. Pushkin plans to publish in autumn 2017.

Secret Passages in a Hillside Town is the working title of the book.

(The Bookseller)

So, my first novel has found many new readers from all over the world since it was published in English (and several other languages), and now another one of my books has been sold to Pushkin Press. (However, unlike that bulletin says, it’s not my latest novel – it’s my second novel, and I have written three novels and one collection of short stories so far.)

Pushkin Press is not the first buyer of this second novel of mine – my Czech publisher, Paseka, had already bought the Czech rights a couple of months earlier.

 

 

The AV Club and The Rabbit Back Literature Society

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Okay, this is a very nice surprise: my first novel (and my first translated work) The Rabbit Back Literature Society is among the 20 must-read books in 2015, according to The AV Club.

The Finnish version, Lumikko ja yhdeksän muuta, was published in 2006, so the book itself is kind of water under the bridge to me, but this U.S. version of it means a lot to me and it’s very heartwarming to see that this little quirky story of mine has been noticed abroad – and especially in USA.

So, thank you so much, dear AV Club and especially Caitlin PenzeyMoog!

Hopefully my later works will also be translated and published in USA, there are two other novels waiting so far, and I’m working my ass off with the fourth one.

These other novels are:

The Cinematic Life: a novel (2010).

Souls Walk in the Rain (2013).

about The Cinematic Life – a novel

Paul Auster meets David Lynch… … if you prefer quick descriptions…

Olli Suominen is a children’s book publisher, a member of the local church council, a husband and a father. In every way a respectable, honest and decent guy, a trusted member of society.

Behind this irreproachable facade, Olli is bored, moving through life in stupor day after day. His relationship with his wife, Aino, a school teacher, has faded to routine and his little son, Lauri, feels like a stranger to him.

The change comes when Olli contacts his long-lost childhood sweetheart, Kerttu, on Facebook. Kerttu has become a famous writer and her next book, The Magical City Guide, is due to be published by Olli’s publishing house.

Little by little Olli slips out of his numbing workaday life into a free fall. Dramatic, suppressed childhood memories resurface. Dreaming and wakefulness intermingle. A feeling of bleakness is replaced by powerful passions.

In The Cinematic Life – a novel Jääskeläinen has conjured up a magnetic, ambience-filled experience. The novel’s emotional range extends from melancholy to melodrama and horror; there is also a touch of a Famous Five feeling thrown in – however these Famous Five are not like the ones we’re used to know…

Jääskeläinen has a talent for knocking everyday life out of joint, elevating it to a magical yet credible level.

There is a catch at the end of the book. Two identical-looking versions of The Cinematic Life have been published, each with a different ending. So you can’t know beforehand which one you’re getting. After you’re done, you can read the alternate ending online.

Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen has described The Cinematic Life – a novel as a tribute to films that are larger than life.

Movie buffs will find frequent references to the world of cinema. A film adaptation of Jääskeläinens’s first novel The Rabbit Back Literature Society is in the works.”

Original Title | Harjukaupungin Salakäytävät

Publishing Year | 2010

Pages | 360

 

About Souls Walk in the Rain

 

And finally, for no reason, a picture of my cat:

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