Baby Jane

Baby Jane

What happened to Piki? The confident girl who always joked around, who hid everything that she wanted to be invisible inside. What made the coolest girl in town a prisoner in her own home, on the verge of starving to death?

In Baby Jane, the female narrator’s great love, Piki, isolates herself in her apartment. Suffering from severe anxiety hysteria, she is unable to deal even with the simplest of everyday chores. Piki’s illness is an unspeakable shame that she tries to hide even from those closest to her. Her girlfriends help and support her as much as they can, but the right words go in the wrong places, and the wrong ones in the right.

The second novel from acclaimed Finnish writer Sofi Oksanen is a candid triangle drama in which an awkward and incredibly tender love story plays out in the shadow of Piki’s illness. Laughter, passion, jealousy and tears lead to irreparable loneliness and, at last, to resignation.

Baby Jane is also a brave call to debate of themes barely treated in Finnish literature before: the pharmaceutical industry, psychiatric care, and how the Prozac generation got stuck in its pill addiction.

Reviews

  • “Oksanen explores the dynamics of jealousy. A sensitive novel about the difficulties of love.”

    Paris Match, France

  • “Oksanen, with her carnal and violent writing style, gives us a novel as bitter as a Valium tablet that slowly dissolves under the tongue.”

    Le Point, France

  • “A poignant portrayal of female homosexuality.”

    Le Monde des livres, France

  • “An excellent novel /…/ [A] powerful, daunting, and important book.”

    Berlingske, Denmark

  • “Sofi Oksanen’s [Baby Jane] is funny, lyrically beautiful and haunting in its depiction of a lesbian couple, living ‘down and out’ in Helsinki.”

    Information, Denmark

  • “Heartbreaking /…/ [A] humorous story, that aptly describes the development of a love affair and at the same time has some sharp observations about gender and gender roles.”

    Jyllands-Posten, Denmark

  • “Oksanen, born in 1977, deserves her reputation as one of the major voices in young Nordic literature /…/ even better than Purge.”

    Information, Denmark

  • “Sofi Oksanen has with Baby Jane written a deeply fascinating triangle drama /…/ this novel is masterful.”

    Bogmarkedet, Denmark

  • “A love affair drenched in anxiety, self-destructiveness and co-dependency is at the forefront in Sofi Oksanen’s intense yet delicate tale.”

    Jyllands-Posten, Denmark

  • Baby Jane is certainly an erotic thriller with both female violence and wet sheets. But it is also further evidence of Sofi Oksanen’s original way of writing her time and her sex into a larger, critical context.”

    Politiken, Denmark

  • “Convincing, urgent and emphatic.”

    Kristeligt Dagblad, Denmark

  • Baby Jane is an excellent novel. Sofi Oksanen tells her story so amazingly well, that one turns page after page until the book is over. Throughout the reading process, one smiles and laughs, gets excited, gets caught up and at times it is hard to keep the tears away. Sofi Oksanen’s story is gripping, and she tells it in a lyrical way that is particularly effective since the story actually is quite raw and unsentimental.”

    Fredericia Dagblad, Denmark

  • “Oksanen’s sober and yet empathetic language works perfectly in her descriptions of the quotidian aspects of dysfunctionality.”

    Kulturkapellet, Denmark

  • “Oksanen does not hesitate to write about topics that others might avoid. Baby Jane brings to light hidden sexual desires; satisfaction is attained through secret mail packages.”

    Hämeen Sanomat, Finland

  • “An accessible read that makes enables the reader who is a stranger to the world depicted in the novel, to enter it. Oksanen’s style bursts with life, and her language is authentic.”

    Etelä-Suomen Sanomat, Finland

  • “Like Stalin’s Cows, Baby Jane is a well-written and well-composed story. /…/ A solidly crafted novel with a captivating drive that propels the reader forward. The novel deals with themes that, even if they are not taboo – what is in today’s reality? – are seldom discussed in the way that this novel discusses them – without exclamation points, subtly and therefore also compellingly.”

    Lapin Kansa, Finland

  • “Bold and confrontational… The hopeless love story the novel portrays resounds beautiful, raw and infinitely sad.”

    Aftenposten, Norway

  • Baby Jane is a modern tragedy. Sofi Oksanen deserves all the attention she has received… That the entire authorship is now available in Norwegian is a delight… Oksanen has a distinct style. She is captivated by subtle nuances, like variations in a voice or a smell… Baby Jane is a powerful love story, but also a book about anxiety, betrayal, desperation, humiliation, jealousy and shame… It is the interest in women's experiences, and the ability to charge the smallest details in unusual ways, that forms the originality of the authorship.”

    Morgenbladet, Norway

  • “Sofi Oksanen describes anxiety and love with a convincing ease… Oksanen conveys a physical sensitivity and authenticity that is easy to absorb, when dealing with jealousy, mental illness and tragic love. She does it with dramatic realism and painful insight.”

    Verdens Gang, Norway

  • “We are carried away from the first page. With utterly credible insight her powerful, unique, uncompromising voice, completely free from sentimentality, but with a rapid, precise sensitivity that will not surrender before it reaches your innermost… Baby Jane is a strong, energetic, upsetting and intense tenderly told novel. Swiftly read, long remaining. In the heart.”

    Vårt Land, Norway

  • “Super cool and sad… Oksanen shows the contrast between exuberance and death wish in a way that can almost be felt physically, through a language that is filled with body and breath and voice.”

    NRK, Norway

  • Baby Jane by Sofi Oksanen is so good. There is a superb drive in the text. The language is intimate and direct: The thing about ‘show don’t tell’ is something Oksanen fully masters.”

    Klassekampen, Norway

  • “The love story between the two women is dark and romantic, but mostly tragic. In a language characterized by drive that does not fail to surprise, the pace is high, eventually in the wrong direction… The highlights are frequent, and the sad story is filled with poetry and gallows humor.”

    Moss Avis, Norway

  • “An unsentimental story about mental illness and life on the edge. Oksanen’s language is very direct, poetic and in this case erotic… The story jumps back and forth in time and we do not know the entire plot until the end. That gives the book a suspenseful composition.”

    Oppland Arbeiderblad, Norway

  • “Sofi Oksanens third novel in Norwegian depicts life on the edge in all its dark magnificence. She writes sharply and convincingly about catatonic states of mind and anxiety attacks … a wonderful dramatic plot structure, Oksanen fully masters the art of composition, and the book ends with a bang… a fabulous sad love story … if one endures to dive into this well of anxiety, depression and jealousy one will feel a little bit wiser, and the world will also seem a bit brighter when one pops up again.”

    Dagbladet, Norway

  • “Raw reality in delicate prose. Oksanen’s novel Baby Jane from 2005 is yet another confirmation of the author’s unique ability to connect delicate prose with brutal revelations of human exposure and vulnerability … Baby Jane is a remarkable piece of literature about mental illness. Without a gram of sentimentality she illustrates loneliness, isolation and desperation.”

    Dagsavisen, Norway

  • “Both the narrator and Piki are medicated for depression. Although they have the same diagnosis and take the same medication, the depression is expressed in completely different ways for them. This is portrayed in a convincing and insightful manner. The reader is brought gently but firmly from level to level in the depiction of despair and pain … there is nothing cheap in Sofi Oksanen’s rendering.”

    Dagens Næringsliv, Norway

  • “Oksanen describes anxiety and love with a convincing ease.”

    Verdens Gang, Norway

  • “A highly original, heartbreaking, believable love story about a lesbian relationship, serious mental illness and how it was to run a mail order company for used women's underwear in Finland in the 1990s. With equal doses of tenderness and humor the Finnish-Estonian award winner Oksanen shows what happens when people fall outside the system and how difficult it is to get mental health care when one belongs to a sexual minority.”

    Dagsavisen, Norway

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Author
Photo: #{publication.artist.imageByline}Sofi Oksanen
Published
2005
Genre
  • Literary
Pages
248
Reading material

English translation

Finnish edition

Swedish edition

Rights sold

Czech Republic, Euromedia

Denmark, Rosinante

Estonia, Varrak

Finland, WSOY

France, Stock

Hungary, Scolar

Norway, Oktober

Spain, Salamandra

Sweden, Albert Bonniers

Turkey, Dogan Egmont

Film rights sold

Finland, Oktober

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