Published in 1971, ‘Kersantin poika’ is a novel by Finnish author Veijo Meri that won the ‘Nordic Council Literature Prize’ in 1973. Veijo Meri was born in Viipuri, studied history at the University of Helsinki, and is one of the leaders of Finnish modernism: his works were translated into 24 languages, and he has written in many genres but has always been faithful to his own personal style. ‘Kersantin poika’ takes place during the 1939 Winter War in Finland and depicts life in the barracks of the then Finnish town of Valkjärvi (Karelia). The narrative style is an example of modernism: the language is clear and concise, but the viewpoint changes according to the people in the story, therefore events are fragmented and uncertain. The reader’s visual field is limited by the own perspective of the figures in the novel: this method underlines the chaotic absurdity of war, where coincidence reings, and people are left destitute and lonely. According to the Adjudicating Committee, ‘Kersantin poika’ contains an artistically significant interpretation of a child’s experience of the world; at the same time the story reflects a threatening historical situation just before World War II.
Books, Culture, Finland, Literature