The fourth novel featured in the #FinnCultBlxBookshelf tells a bittersweet story of a mother-daughter trip from Synkkylä to Tenerife. This is what our book critic had to say about Taina Latvala’s Välimatka.
Taina Latvala: Välimatka (2012)
The fourth book from the FinnCultBlx Bookshelf is Taina Latvala’s Välimatka (Distance is maybe the best translation) from 2012. If you are wondering why many of these books are from the early 2010s, it’s because the then Director, Sirpa Hietanen, had a very active literature program!
Latvala comes from Pohjanmaa (Ostrobothnia), my home region in Western Finland. Her characters speak my dialect, and they are very familiar in character also. This one has not been translated into any other language, and it might be a tough read even if you knew a bit of Finnish.
Välimatka is a story of a mother and daughter who travel to Tenerife from their home in Synkkylä, a small village in Ostrobothnia. Both remain nameless, it is their relationship that defines them. The mother turns 60 – hence the trip – and the daughter longs for love.
The past is heavily present in the absence of two people, husband/father and aunt Tuulikki. The two women have chosen to stay in their home region, most of the other characters have left Ostrobothnia in one way or another. The story meanders between past and present, some mysteries of the past are revealed, some remain secrets.
The language is for me pure nostalgia of my childhood. The mother’s reluctance to leave even for a short period of time reminds me of my mother who never got to see my world, particularly Italy (and I tried).
The book was fun and sad at the same time. I liked it.
– Eeva-Maria Viitanen (Eppu)
Taina Latvala is a Helsinki-based author, playwright, and journalist. She was awarded the Kalevi Jäntti Award in 2007 for her first published work Arvostelukappale in 2007. In 2014, Latvala adapted Välimatka for the stage, and the play was performed at The Vaasa City Theatre.
To learn more about Latvala, follow her on Instagram.