Anja Snellman



My reading life

Anja Snellman started to devour books as soon as she learned to read at the age of four. Her family lived next to the local library, which became a second home to her. She has been an eclectic reader from the very beginning.  The more diverse her reading list, the better Snellman feels it keeps her brain moving. “I like to read several books at the same time, and I read poetry every day, at breakfast or lunch.” Continue >>

The gift of translation

“Translator Ann Goldstein has given the world a gift in Elena Ferrante’s works,” says Ojay Dagistan, whose online bookstore specializes in translated literature. “Language should never be a barrier to reading a good book.” Ann Goldstein describes her translator role as that of an enabler. “You are trying to enable someone to express themselves as much as they possibly can,” she told National Public Radio. Continue >>

Sonia O. in Czech

A young woman’s search for identity is an eternal theme around the world. Sonia O. Was Here left a strong impression on Marketa Hejkalova, who went on to translate the book into Czech in the 1980s. However, the book was not approved for publication until after the collapse of communism. “At that time in communist Czechoslovakia, sex and any criticism of communism were strictly prohibited topics.”  Continue >>


I was born in late spring. I have never believed in astrology—but by all accounts, I’m a typical Gemini: my personality and my body of work are characterized by dualisms. My works can be divided into two categories, based on life-changing events, such as the birth of my children and my mother’s death, and content and style: fact and fiction, polemics and poetics, pathos and humor, intuition and intellect. Continue >>

Digging into the core

Anja Snellman and Emmi Itäranta, author of the award-winning Memory of Water, discussed the relationship between authors and their publishers at the Turku Book Fair at the beginning of October 2021. “The publisher must understand and support the author’s distinctive qualities. The editor should be a careful and unforgiving reader who has the courage to question and challenge,” says Snellman. Continue >>

Leafy weather

Leafy weather. It often crosses my mind when I’m riding my bicycle in the city in the fall. Leaves are falling from trees and collecting on the streets and tram rails. This is how I remember it: A woman is riding her bike. She is in a hurry; the matter is urgent. The leaves are making the rails slippery, and the driver cannot control the tram. A sad, tragic accident. The scene was written by Anja Snellman, and I will never forget it. Continue >>

40 years later

Forty years ago, I was nervous as hell. I had been working on my manuscript for seven years, and my first novel was scheduled for publication in October 1981. The book came out, and my life was never the same. The book provoked the full gamut of emotions, from joy and delight to annoyance and rage. The feedback varied widely, and I was delivered not only roses, but also shit in a packet. Literally, believe it or not. Continue >>

 A world of literature

Ojay Dagistan runs an online bookstore from her home in Sussex, England. Her bookstore, 7 Pages UK, specializes in translated works. “Language should never be a barrier to reading a good book. Translation gives English-speaking readers an opportunity to broaden their worldview. Through translation, a reader can travel and experience the sounds and tastes of another culture.” Continue >>

The story begins

First, the phone went crazy. Then my mailbox started filling up. I can only imagine what my inbox would have looked like if e-mail had existed back in 1981. I was a student in my early twenties; I had worked on my first novel throughout the seven years I had spent at the university. I had yet to finish my thesis and sit for my final exams. I had run out of money many times over, both my own and my boyfriend’s. Continue >>

Sonia O. comes to life on stage

Denisa Snyder, a drama student at the University of the Arts Helsinki, is preparing a monologue from Sonia O. Was Here. She has been invited to perform the monologue at the main event celebrating Anja Snellman’s 40th year as an author in late 2021. Her performance was originally part of a student production at the university. Snyder came across Sonia O. Was Here in a library. Continue >>

The power of words

Anja Snellman relies on the power of words in her two professions. The meaning of a single word can be crucial in the work of both an author and a therapist. “As an author, I believe that language unites us. As a therapist, I know that words can unearth hidden emotions and memories. People can mull over a word for decades; they can remember a specific insult from their childhood, for example.” Continue >>

Fragmented realities

The Internet has changed the publishing industry, and it has also made its way into the lives of characters in novels—albeit with a little delay. “Characters in today’s novels are more likely to surprise us if they don’t use social media,” writes author Olivia Sudjic in her article for the Guardian. “In terms of form, social media has shaped contemporary fiction. The dominant trend is to tell a story through fragments.” Continue >>

The colors of Sonia O.

In 2002, Sini-Meri Hedberg was studying at the Turku Arts Academy. An exhibition of paintings was being put together for the Turku Book Fair, based on books by Finnish authors. “We were given a list of books to choose from. I recognized a familiar name and made my choice. The book was the same as I remembered, but I had changed, meaning that my perception of Sonia had also changed,” Hedberg explains. Continue >>

Enchanted by poetic language

Continents: A Love Story came out in English in 2019. The book was translated into Czech in 2007 by Viola Capkova. “Anja Snellman’s creative language translates naturally into Czech. I have translated a great deal of poetry, and working on Snellman’s prose is very close to translating poetry. Snellman also frequently uses irony, for which Czechs have a particular fondness as a way of expression.”  Continue >>

10 misconceptions about love

Love is blind? Love is the opposite of hate? Love is different for women and men? Love endures all things? You cannot love two people at the same time? We’ll always have Paris? Anja Snellman writes of how 10 beliefs about love have proven wrong in her life. “Falling in love is always an experience of renewal. When two people fall in love, they are offered an opportunity they can either seize or lose.” Continue >>

Standing the test of time

Sonia O. Was Here authentically depicts the zeitgeist of the 1970s: a new femininity and the reality of an entire generation. The novel became a literary sensation, having caused quite a stir even before its publication. It is a perceptive interpretation of the passions of a radical generation. The main character represents a new concept of womanhood, and many readers also idolized the author. Continue >>

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