Monika Fagerholm wins the 2020 Nordic Council Literature Prize

27.10.20 | News
Monika Fagerholm
Nordisk kulturkontakt/Seppo Samuli

Monika Fagerholm received the Nordlys statuette during a small ceremony at Nordic Culture Point in Helsinki after winning the 2020 Nordic Council Literature Prize.

The 2020 Nordic Council Literature Prize goes to “Vem dödade bambi?” by author Monika Fagerholm from Finland.

Monika Fagerholm is awarded the prize for a work that is a stylised tale of morality written with fervent energy.

The prize was awarded by author and artist Zinat Pirzadeh at the digital awards ceremony for the Nordic Council prizes for 2020 on Tuesday evening. COVID-19 meant that the awards ceremony could no longer take place in Iceland. The winners of the five Nordic Council prizes were instead revealed during a digital ceremony.


Monika Fagerholm’s novel Vem dödade bambi? (in English “Who killed Bambi?”, not translated) is a stylised tale of morality written with fervent energy. A gang rape is committed by a group of well-to-do youths in the bourgeois suburb of Villastaden outside Helsinki. Fagerholm’s focus is not the victim but the perpetrators and what takes place before and after the rape, especially the parent generation’s efforts to smooth everything over afterwards. This gives her an excellent opportunity to demonstrate her exacting social satire. The language lurches forwards, then crackles with sheer power before turning into a melancholic incantation. Somewhere in this web of dialogue, choruses, and pop-culture references is a hard truth that affects the people no matter how much they try to defend themselves against it. Gusten Grippe, the only perpetrator to admit his guilt, becomes a counterforce to the dark hollowness from the room where the attack took place. Set against our perpetually superficial, status-hungry time is a yearning for the unspoiled, an essential longing expressed in the form of memories of love and friendship, moments that can be recalled and from which strength can be drawn.

About the Nordic Council’s prizes

The Nordic Council awards five prizes each year – for literature, film, music, the environment, and children’s and young people’s literature. Each prize of DKK 350,000 is awarded at a gala event during the annual Session of the Nordic Council.