Anna-Leena Harkonen



Pasi Leino


Let’s Do Lunch!

Anna-Leena Harkonen discussed Let’s Do Lunch, her latest collection of columns initially written for a magazine, at the Turku Book Fair at the beginning of October 2021.

The book features the original, longer versions of the columns, some of which will also be published in English in the Journal section of this website.

LET’S DO LUNCH addresses the full gamut of modern everyday phenomena, from meaningless communication to being technologically challenged in a digital world.

Harkonen loves listening to and eavesdropping on people. Her friends are used to this, and some even encourage her to use their stories in her books. If someone forbids her to use their words, she respects their wishes, of course.

However, Harkonen admits to sometimes having used material that she has overheard, without permission, appealing to authors’ constant hunger for stories.

“Authors are willing to do almost anything in their quest for good stories—even join Tinder,” she says.

“It was a horrible experience, and I had to quit after three days. Passing judgment by swiping left felt terrible, and I was an impostor who was there for other reasons than everyone else, which was unfair to them.”

THE COLLECTION is named after a column about meaningless communication, soulless small talk, even between assumed friends: “We should meet up. Let’s do coffee!”

If someone asks Harkonen to go for a cup of coffee, she takes out her calendar and asks what would be a good time, unaware that the invite was not meant to be taken seriously. This generally creates confusion, embarrassment, excuses, and desperate attempts to save face.

“We seem to be increasingly afraid of making a commitment and missing out: if I decide to see this person, will I lose an opportunity to meet someone even more interesting?”

HARKONEN HAS the ability to express a great deal and capture the essence of complex phenomena in a few words. The columns reflect her rebellious and straightforward attitude.

“I’m a somewhat grumpy and nervous person who is easily irritated. The columns are an outlet for me, which is why many people think I’m snappy or intimidating in real life,” Harkonen explains.

“Well, I’m not. I can express that side of myself in my books. I write what I don’t have the courage to say out loud.”

Reported by Anja Pirttijarvi

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