Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday's Forgotten Book: Päivö Suomela's Mustan ketun kirot

Okay, this is really a forgotten book, since it's Finnish - and I don't think anyone's read that even in here for at least 20 years. It just so happens I read it last night and thought it might be of interest to someone reading this blog - there must be some Finnish readers among the bunch.

Päivö Suomela's Mustan ketun kirot was published in 1955, by Karisto, in their pretty low-down juvenile series called Poikien kirjoja (Books for Boys). The books in the series are not very collectible, even though I know there are people who are looking to fill the series. The book's title means translated "The Curse of the Black Fox". There's no supernatural element, though, which is a shame - and I was actually looking for one, since I've been planning a book of Finnish sword & sorcery stories and when I saw this at a bookseller in the Turku market square, I thought this might have something I want.

No such luck. The book is set in the 15th century, but you don't know it from anything other than that there's a mention of the time in the short foreword. The characters have names that purport to sound like ancient Finnish or Kalevala-ish (Sipi, Osmo, Haveri), but the book could still take place even in the early 20th century. There's not much action and it seems at places that the author forgot where he was taking his story. It's relatively entertaining, though.

The book could also be a western. It's about a boy and an old man who live somewhere in the Finnish frontier. They are robbed of their furs - which contains a fur of a black fox. The young boy sets out to track down the thieves and runs into another young boy called Marjo. (There's a hint of homosexual attraction, until it's revealed in the end that Marjo is actually and safely a girl!) The same events could take place in Wild West in the 1880's.

Päivö Suomela was a son of the Finnish sports writer and educator Klaus Suomela and the juvenile writer Launo Suomela was his brother. I believe both worked as teachers. Päivö Suomela did also the cover illustration for his book. I think it's pretty nice. Päivö Suomela wrote a dozen or so other juvenile novels in the fifties and sixties.

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