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Nina Wähä

Testament

Siri and Pentti Toimi run a small homestead in northern Finland. Pentti rules the family with an iron fist – a ferocious temper that can strike down on anyone at any time. Of their 12 living children, only Annie, Lauri, Tarmo and Voitto have moved away (physically and mentally), as far away as Stockholm, Helsinki and Cyprus (although no one knows for sure in Voitto’s case). The others remain in the Torne Valley: Esko, the conscientious oldest brother, who hopes to inherit the farm; Helmi, the sister in constant need of money (and lots thereof); Tatu, who almost perished when the garage took fire, and who is always ready to offer people a ride; Lahja, smarter than she lets on, but constantly in the shadow of her gifted brother Tarmo. And all the rest of them.

It’s almost Christmas, and most of the children have gathered for the preparations the days ahead. Something is going to happen – something must happen, that is something the eldest children all agree on. The dark secret that is the last straw. For the sake of their mother, the younger siblings, and the two that came first and died: Pentti’s tyranny must come to an end. It is time to settle old scores. Soon nothing will be the same.

Testament is a wondrous family drama: vibrant, boisterous and darkly amusing, carrying traits from Jonathan Safran Foer and Mikael Niemi. A polyphonic magnum opus, by a storyteller unlike anyone else.

WINNER OF SWEDISH RADIO’S LITERATURE PRIZE 2020

SHORTLISTED FOR THE AUGUST PRIZE 2019

SHORTLISTED FOR VI’S LITERATURE PRIZE 2020

SHORTLISTED FOR NORRLAND’S LITERATURE PRIZE 2020

SHORTLISTED FOR THE EYVIND JOHNSON PRIZE 2020

Nina

About the author

Wähä

Nina Wähä (b. 1979) saw her major breakthrough in 2019 with third novel, Testament. It has sold more than 120.000 copies to date and was shortlisted for a string of literary awards, such as the August Prize, Norrland’s Literature Prize, Tidningen Vi:s Literature Prize, and was awarded Swedish Radio’s Literature Prize. In addition to being an…

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Arabic language: Dar al-Muna, Croatia: Hena, Czech Republic: Jota, Denmark: Modtryk, Estonia: Rahva Raamat, Finland: WSOY, France: Robert Laffont, Germany: Heyne Encore, Hungary: Polar, Iceland: Bjartur, Italy: Carbonio, Netherlands: Prometheus, Norway: Pax, Poland: Poznanskie, Russia: Ripol, Serbia: Dokaz, Turkey: Zenon

Siri and Pentti Toimi run a small homestead in northern Finland. Pentti rules the family with an iron fist – a ferocious temper that can strike down on anyone at any time. Of their 12 living children, only Annie, Lauri, Tarmo and Voitto have moved away (physically and mentally), as far away as Stockholm, Helsinki and Cyprus (although no one knows for sure in Voitto’s case). The others remain in the Torne Valley: Esko, the conscientious oldest brother, who hopes to inherit the farm; Helmi, the sister in constant need of money (and lots thereof); Tatu, who almost perished when the garage took fire, and who is always ready to offer people a ride; Lahja, smarter than she lets on, but constantly in the shadow of her gifted brother Tarmo. And all the rest of them.

It’s almost Christmas, and most of the children have gathered for the preparations the days ahead. Something is going to happen – something must happen, that is something the eldest children all agree on. The dark secret that is the last straw. For the sake of their mother, the younger siblings, and the two that came first and died: Pentti’s tyranny must come to an end. It is time to settle old scores. Soon nothing will be the same.

Testament is a wondrous family drama: vibrant, boisterous and darkly amusing, carrying traits from Jonathan Safran Foer and Mikael Niemi. A polyphonic magnum opus, by a storyteller unlike anyone else.

WINNER OF SWEDISH RADIO’S LITERATURE PRIZE 2020

SHORTLISTED FOR THE AUGUST PRIZE 2019

SHORTLISTED FOR VI’S LITERATURE PRIZE 2020

SHORTLISTED FOR NORRLAND’S LITERATURE PRIZE 2020

SHORTLISTED FOR THE EYVIND JOHNSON PRIZE 2020

Reviews

This is true pleasure, if that even exists

I’m writing this review in anger, caused by the outrage that arises from having something stolen from you, something that is rightfully yours. Let me start from the beginning; I have just finished reading Testament. You must understand. It is normal to feel a little grumpy when a good book has come to an end. But this? I have lived with these characters, no, these people for days on end. And suddenly it’s over. I’m not disappointed, I’m devastated! /… / This is true pleasure, if that even exists /… / The way she allows each family member to momentarily be the lead character, and the way each one does it so convincingly that you forget about the rest, forget previous favourites and become temporarily obsessed with this one child, at the same time as the individual story adds depth to the rest and the family as a unit, is simply wonderful. Not wonderful because it is so skilfully done, but because it reminds you that everyone carries a small universe within, something great and profound that you can never fully understand.

Expressen
What a wonderful family chronicle

What a wonderful family chronicle. I’m completely dazzled after having read Nina Wähä’s Testament. I’m amazed that a book like this is written in Sweden today. It is rare /… / The novel is brimming with suspense, as well as powerful emotions /… / Testament adds solace to the mysterious bonds between parents and children by portraying the chaotic Toimi family where terror and tragedy live next door to bread baking and laughter. Is the image of the Torne Valley truthful? Perhaps the author knows her setting or perhaps she has conducted rigorous research. But I don’t think the question is important. Because she masters the art of storytelling, and that is what makes Testament a simply fantastic reading experience.

Arbetarbladet
The novel is brimming with wistful life wisdom and dour insight

The character gallery is swarming and could potentially become confusing, but Wähä juggles her characters virtuously and connects the reader with every member of the afflicted, weary and hysterically funny Toimi family. I’m completely absorbed right from the start, because Wähä certainly knows how to write. There is a mild irony and subdued fierceness to her tone that makes you want to linger with the narrator’s voice /… / The novel is brimming with wistful life wisdom and dour insight. Despite the infernal darkness, the stench of diesel, Finnish quarrels and severe communication issues it still makes me want to move to the Torne Valley immediately

Dagens Nyheter
Wähä’s energy and abundant zest for storytelling holds a remarkable power

Wähä’s energy and abundant zest for storytelling holds a remarkable power. The novel does not let go and eventually this pluralism, all these similarities and differences between the siblings, become the fundamental issue. They have all suffered in each and their own way. And they are all intriguing, well-worthy of both my own and the author’s attention

Göteborgs-Posten

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