Anna-Leena Harkonen


Roni Lehti/Lehtikuva

Life as it happens

Anna-Leena Harkonen has been a leading cultural figure in her native Finland since the publication of her debut novel in 1984. 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. More…

Happy birthday!

My ex-husband and I were not into celebrating our birthdays. Too much hassle. We didn’t buy each other birthday presents, or Christmas gifts, for that matter.

I remember that one spring on my birthday, I was secretly waiting for a call from him. He did call, but after chatting with him for a while, I realized he had no intention of wishing me a happy birthday. I couldn’t help but address the issue. Continue >>

Moments in the sun

I’m a travel addict who likes to play it safe. A few weeks ago, I returned home from Italy, the land of lovers. In terms of age, I’m old enough to be a grandmother, but in Italy I felt like a young donna. “Buongiorno, signora!” men of all ages kept shouting to me on the streets. When did I turn from a signorina into a signora? Twenty years ago? When I still was a signorina, the attention felt annoying. That was no longer the case. Continue >>

Mending the mind

I used to watch In Treatment, a show starring Gabriel Byrne as a psychiatrist. The show was broadcast daily, and I grew fond of the sympathetic therapist.

Whenever I was feeling edgy, I imagined myself sitting on his sofa. Was this therapist able to help people? Sometimes. In couples therapy, he was careful not to take sides, but little gestures and expressions revealed what he really thought. Continue >>

A whole new world

Once I complained to a colleague that I had not been able to write for more than fifteen minutes that day . “It’s a nudge forward,” she said, comforting me. “Even if you can’t come up with more than just one sentence, it’s still something.” So I keep telling myself: “Don’t try to write the whole book. Write one page. One sentence. A word.” There is nothing romantic or glamorous about the anguish of creativity. Continue >>

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