Finnish artists scoop three Nordic Council prizes

Finns won for literature and music in the annual awards, which was held virtually on Tuesday night due to coronavirus restrictions.

Composite image of (L-R) Monika Fagerholm, Jenny Lucander and Sampo Haapamäki / Credit: Norden, News Now Finland

The Nordic Council has given out its 2020 awards at a virtual ceremony on Tuesday evening with Finnish artists scooping three out of five prizes on offer.

Each year the Nordic Council gives prizes for literature, film, music, the environment and children’s and young people’s literature, with the winners receiving a statuette and 355,000 Danish krone – around €47,000.

This year’s awards were due to have been presented in Iceland but because of the coronavirus situation the event was moved online instead.

The Literature Prize went to author Monika Fagerholm for her Swedish-language book “Vem dödade bambi?” (“Who killed Bambi?”) which is described as a “stylised tale of morality written with fervent energy.” The book is set just outside Helsinki and looks at the well-heeled young perpetrators of a gang rape, and their parents efforts to smooth everything over.

The Children and Young People’s Literature Prize this year was awarded to Finnish illustrator Jenny Lucander for her collaboration with Swedish author Jens Mattsson on a picture book called “Vi är lajon!” (“We are lions!”) The judges said Lucander’s work evoked the traditions of Finnish-Swedish artist and author Tove Jansson “but with a completely new expression full of original perspectives, line drawings, colour choices, and character design.”

The 2020 Music Prize went to Finnish composer Sampo Haapamäki for his piano concerto “Konsertto neljäsosasävelaskelpianolle ja kamariorkesterille” (“Quarter-tone Piano Concerto”) which was praised for its musicality and craftsmanship – Haapamäki had to invent a special instrument, the quarter-tone piano, to play the piece. “It surprises the listener with an exuberant, novel, yet strangely familiar musical language, and keeps the attention of the listener right from the beginning until the very end with its virtuosic elaboration of details” the awards committee declared.

The Film Prize was given to a Norwegian movie, while the Environment Prize went to a project from the Faroe Islands.