ANNA-LEENA HARKONEN

Touchingly true,

brutally honest,

irresistibly ironic

Anna-Leena Harkonen is celebrating her 35th year as an author in 2019. She has been a leading cultural figure in her native Finland since the publication of her debut novel, How to Kill a Bull, in 1984, a year after her first leading role in a major feature film at the age of 17.

As an author, Harkonen is known for her delightfully insightful and precise prose, uncompromising honesty, and disarming sense of irony. She is also known as a scriptwriter and is one of the most widely recognized actors in her home country.

AUTHOR

September 30, 2019
FAINT LINES

For many women, pregnancy is a blissful experience they remember their entire lives. Some women cannot forget their pregnancy for other reasons: having a baby can be confusing—even terrifying. Faint Lines is a honest account that captures the vulnerability, beauty, and occasional absurdity of life.

Anna-Leena Harkonen. Photo: Mari Lahti

Candid but gentle
TOO RESTLESS
TO BE AN AUTHOR

“This profession is not that suited to my personality. I’m too impatient,” says author Anna-Leena Harkonen. Since her debut novel the age of 18, Anna-Leena has been used to seeing her face in magazines. The success of her literary debut introduced her to the circus called celebrity.

Journal
SINS OF MY YOUTH

I wonder why authors are so merciless about their older works. Admittedly, it would be strange if we read our earlier works in a state of self-congratulatory euphoria—but we shouldn’t be ashamed of them. It was not our fault that we were young. It was not our fault that we thought we knew everything about anything.

Honest to the extreme
FICTIONAL EVENTS, TRUE EMOTIONS

Anna-Leena Harkonen is not afraid of tackling difficult topics. In her novels, she draws on the highs and lows of her own life. The events may be fictional, but the emotions are always true. She takes her work very seriously: each project feels like a matter of life and death.

Journal
THE GOOD, THE BAD
AND THE TOUCHY

I used to think there was something wrong with me. And there definitely is—but I used to think something was horribly and fundamentally wrong with me. But no: according to psychological tests, I’m a highly sensitive person. This personality trait has not been talked about extensively until recently.

Journal
NO OFFENSE, BUT . . .

“No offense, but . . .” usually means that you are about hear an insult masked as concern or caring. The same applies to “Don’t take this personally, but . . .” or “I’m telling you this as a friend.” Please. If you are being insulted personally, why shouldn’t you take it personally? And this “friend” is usually anything but.

Journal
WHEN AINO MET JEAN

I recently read a biography of Aino Sibelius, the wife of composer Jean Sibelius. I wasn’t expecting a book of this type to make me laugh aloud—or to sometimes irritate me. Aino gave birth to six daughters and worked as a translator to support the family. Judging from the book, she had no artistic ambitions of her own.

Journal
WHEREVER YOU ARE

I’m obsessed with the Titanic. I have several books about the ship on my bookshelf, and I have seen all the documentaries. Of course, I have also seen the 1997 movie—only twice, though. When I visited New York a few years ago, the high point of my trip was an exhibition about the Titanic.

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