2010 Sofi Oksanen, Finland: Puhdistus
About the author
Sofi Oksanen was born in Jyväskylä and is a Finnish novelist and playwright. Her mother is an Estonian engineer and her father an electrician from Finland. She made her literary debut with the book Stalinin lehmät, published in 2003. She has won several literary prizes – the Finlandia Prize in 2008 and the Runeberg Prize in 2009. Her works have been translated into a host of languages, and she has also received the French prize Prix Femina.
About the winning piece
Her third novel, Purge, is about the Soviet occupation of Estonia and its consequences. Unfortunately, it is also very much of current interest with its stories about human trafficking around the Baltic. The book’s two time levels are 1992 – one year after Estonia won its independence – and the 1940s – when tens of thousands of Estonians were deported to Siberia and agriculture was collectivised. On a summer morning in 1992, old Aliide Truu finds an exhausted and confused young woman in her vegetable garden. This Zara has been tricked away from her home in Vladivostok to work as a sex worker in Berlin. On the way to Tallinn where she was supposed to start selling her body to Finnish sex tourists, she manages to escape. Bit för bit, genom tillbakablickar på Aliides ungdom, avslöjas de täta band som länkar samman de två kvinnornas liv.
Published by: WSOY publishing company
Publication year: 2008
This is what the Adjudicating Committee had to say
Sofi Oksanen's novel 'Purge' takes place on two time planes in Estonia, but its themes of love, treachery, power and powerlessness are timeless. With a rare precise and apposite language Oksanen describes what history does to individuals and history's pervasion in the present.