Sofi Oksanen

One of the most awarded literary authors in Scandinavia and translated into 46 languages and sold in more than 2 million copies, Finnish-Estonian novelist, librettist and playwright Sofi Oksanen (b. 1977) is an icon of her field. Called a “literary phenomenon” by The Times, Oksanen has since her international breakthrough novel, Purge, proved time and again that she is a mistress of human drama, incorporating historical and contemporary issues that move the reader. Her most recent work is Same River Twice – Putin’s War on Women, a literary essay on colonialism and oppression, women, and war.


Vilhelm Moberg-Society Prize Sweden 2023
Cross of Merit by the Estonian Foreign Ministry (II Class) Estonia 2023
Usedom Literature Prize Usedom Island 2023
Shortlisted for the Fedora Opera Prize 2021
Medal of Honor by the Ukrainian Association in Finland Finland 2021
Chevalier Medal of Honour by Ordre des Arts et des Lettres France 2019
Nominated for The New Academy Prize in Literature Sweden 2018
Shortlisted for the Ambassador of Finnish Culture award (The Culture Gala of the Century) Finland 2017
Longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award Ireland – Kun kyyhkyset katosivat When the Doves Disappeared 2017
Shortlisted for the Young Aleksis Literature Prize Finland – Norma Norma 2016
The Budapest Grand Prize Hungary 2013
The Swedish Academy Nordic Prize Sweden 2013
Order of the Lion of Finland – the Pro Finlandia Medal Finland 2012
The French Bookseller’s Prize France – Puhdistus Purge 2012
Shortlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award Ireland – Puhdistus Purge 2011
Shortlisted for the Green Carnation Prize UK – Puhdistus Purge 2011
The European Book Prize France – Puhdistus Purge 2010
The Prix du roman Fnac France – Puhdistus Purge 2010
The Prix Femina Étranger France – Puhdistus Purge 2010
The Nordic Council’s Literature Prize The Nordic Councils – Puhdistus Purge 2010
Shortlisted for the Prix Médicis France – Puhdistus Purge 2010
The Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana (IV class) Estonia 2010
The Runeberg Award Finland – Puhdistus Purge 2009
The Finlandia Award Finland – Puhdistus Purge 2008
The Kalevi Jäntti Prize Finland – Puhdistus Purge 2008
The Mika Waltari Award Finland – Puhdistus Purge 2008
The SSKK Recognition Award Finland – Puhdistus Purge 2008
The Kristiina of the Year Award Finland – Puhdistus Purge 2008
The Great Finnish Book Club Prize Finland – Puhdistus Purge 2008
Shortlisted for the Runeberg Award Finland – Stalinin lehmät Stalin’s Cows 2004
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The Estonian Quartet

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‘Same River Twice’ published in Finland

Twenty years after the publication of Stalin’s Cows, Sofi Oksanen is back with an impactful essay, Same River Twice, depicting how Russia is repeating its old playbook in Ukraine, a playbook first executed by Catherine the Great in Crimea in 1783, and again on a larger and bloodier scale by the Soviet Union and Stalin.

Russia has never confronted its imperialist past. Instead, the Kremlin has focused on creating enemies, using them to lay the groundwork for the sexual violence it employs in wars and dehumanizing those who become victims of human rights abuses. Gender equality progress is in decline in Putin’s Russia. Russia silences women, uses rape as a weapon, and humiliates its victims in the media, threatening them with further sexual violence.

This essay on colonialism, oppression and genocide is also a story of war and of women. It addresses the necessity of talking about war, and about war crimes, arguing that no matter what happens, silence cannot ever win.

Photo: Toni Härkönen

‘The Dog Park’ shortlisted for the Christine Award

Sofi Oksanen’s The Dog Park has just been shortlisted for the Christine Award 2023. The award is issued by Bücherfrauen – Women in Publishing, a German organization which works to support women in publishing. The Christine Award was established in 2021 and is given every two years to a writer who through their writing contributes to gender equality and empowers women. The winner, endowed with 10 000 euros, will be announced on October 19th at the Frankfurt Bookfair. 

Toni Härkönen Photo: Toni Härkönen

Sofi Oksanen awarded the Vilhelm Moberg-Society Prize 2023

The prestigious literary prize of the Vilhelm Moberg-Society is this year awarded to Sofi Oksanen.

The society argues that Sofi Oksanen is a tremendous author that takes great courage in discussing difficult issues and therefore is an obvious winner. She is one of the most influential and important contemporary authors, not least due to her ability to illustrate hardship and different forms of oppression.

The Vilhelm Moberg-Society Prize is awarded annually on April 6th, and the ceremony takes place August 19th in Sweden.


Toni Härkönen Photo: Toni Härkönen

Sofi Oksanen at the Swedish Academy

On March 22nd, Sofi Oksanen spoke at the Swedish Academy. With reference to the freedom of speech and democracy, the theme of this year’s Academy Conference was “Thought and Truth under Pressure”.

Sofi spoke on ‘Russia’s war against Women’, inquiring into misogyny as a state policy and an instrument of imperialism.

Her speech was incredibly well received, with reviews describing it as “powerful”, “on point” and “important”.

Click HERE to watch the speech.

Photo: Toni Härkönen

Sofi Oksanen awarded the Estonia Foreign Ministry’s Cross of Merit, Second Class

This year, the Crosses of Merit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are awarded to diplomats and partners from Estonia and beyond for their notable contribution to the Estonian foreign service, foreign policy objectives and Estonian statehood.

Sofi Oksanen received the Cross of Merit, Second Class, by virtue of having raised awareness of Estonian history, and boosting Estonia’s profile internationally, through her writing.

Toni Härkönen Photo: Toni Härkönen

Sofi Oksanen awarded the Usedom Literature Prize 2023

Sofi Oksanen has been awarded the Usedom Literary Prize 2023. The Usedom Literature Prize is awarded annually since 2011, to literary figures who appear strongly committed to the European dialogue, both past and present. The award is intended to promote the continued exchange of ideas and to further the literary tradition on the Baltic Island of Usedom.

The jury’s motivation is as follows:

“In her oeuvre, Sofi Oksanen links Finland and Estonia, two European countries, two historical spaces with a socio-cultural present. She makes them experienceable in a transnational and profoundly European context. In a masterful and moving way, Sofi Oksanen portrays unimaginably painful and complex human biographies, marked by the totalitarian experiences of the 20th century. These cast long shadows on this part of our continent to this day. For what was experienced then continues to have an effect today with the survival strategies that were developed. Sofi Oksanen thus also poses questions to all of us. With a view to memory, she challenges us to seriously reflect on our attitudes and values.”

The award ceremony will take place May 6th.

Toni Härkönen

Sofi Oksanen appointed literary godmother to Finland’s prime minister

Sofi Oksanen is one of sixteen authors entrusted with the role of literary godparent to Finnish political decision-makers. Sanasto, an organization dedicated to copyright issues in literature, has launched a program where they connect authors and decision-makers in order to create a link between literature and politics. The authors entrusted with this mission will uphold a conversation about literature, the book industry and copyright matters.

Oksanen’s three godchildren include prime minister Sanna Marin, speaker of parliament Anu Vehviläinen, and chairman of the education and culture committee Paula Risikko.

Toni Härkönen

‘Innocence’ opera nominated in two categories at the Culture Gala in Finland

The opera Innocence, with the libretto written by Sofi Oksanen, has been nominated for the Cultural Achievement of the Year in Finland. Innocence is also nominated in the category International Achievement.

Voting for Cultural Achievement of the Year will continue through November 9th, and the winners will be announced at the Culture Gala in Tammerfors on November 25th.

‘Dog Park’ featured amongst Oprah’s Best Translated Books of 2021

As Oprah Winfrey lists her picks for the 21 Best Translated Books of 2021, Sofi Oksanen’s Dog Park is featured on the list.

Toni Härkönen

‘Innocence’ opera receives rave reviews

Last week, the opera entitled Innocence, composed by Kaija Saariaho and with the libretto written by Sofi Oksanen, had its world premiere during the 2021 Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. Both the opera in its entirety and the libretto itself have been praised by critics and audiences worldwide.

Already prior to the premiere, The New York Times newspaper called Innocence “the most anticipated new opera of the year,” and it has since been declared as “the landmark opera of our time” by Helsingin Sanomat, the largest daily newspaper in the Nordics. “In operas, the composer is often mentioned, the librettist less often. But Kaija Saariaho’s and Sofi Oksanen’s Innocence is the work of two equal masters,” the review continues.

“From the libretto to the staging, everything in this dark and powerful work promises a future in the biggest international theaters,” French financial newspaper Les Echos writes. The newspaper Le Monde calls it “an overwhelming masterpiece” and Spanish El Pais affirms that “it leaves no one unimpressed.”

Premiere date set for stage adaptation of ‘Purge’

The Canadian theatre company Theatre; Just Because has adapted Sofi Oksanen’s bestselling novel Purge into a stage play. Purge is a riveting and suspenseful tale of two women dogged by their own shameful pasts. Set in the years following WW2 and in the early 1990s, the play depicts the culmination of a tragic family drama of rivalry, lust, and loss that played out during the worst years of Estonia’s Soviet occupation.

Purge is set to premiere on July 15, with live performances continuing until July 17 and virtual performances until July 25. Click the ‘Read more’ button below to access tickets which are available for the live-audience performances in Alberta, Canada, and for worldwide streaming online.

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Sofi Oksanen’s ‘Stalin’s Cows’ to be adapted into TV series

Today it was announced that production company Tuffi Films has acquired the rights to adapt Sofi Oksanen’s bestselling debut novel Stalin’s Cows into a TV series.

The six-episode series will be written by Finnish scriptwriter Aino Kivi and Estonian scriptwriter Andra Teede, who give their thoughts on the novel and project below:

“The novel is remarkable, and it feels even more topical now than it did when it was first published.”
–Aino Kivi

Stalin’s Cows will be the most important international television series ever filmed about the complicated history of Estonia. Sofi Oksanen has done an amazing job of writing in one book about the troubling times of the Stalin repressions of the 1940s, the joyless life of the deep Soviet Union of the 1970s and the ramifications of all this in the lives of the young Estonians in Finland in the 2000s. Today, when Estonian and Finnish relations are more tense than they have been for a while, it is important to remember the history of the neighbouring countries and the freedom and prosperity that Finland has always represented to Estonians. Stalin’s Cows is a story of how some suffering play a role in our psyche even generations later. I am very proud to be a part of writing this series and hope to bring my own family’s stories into this very promising work of art.”
–Andra Teede

And Sofi adds:
“When I saw Aino Kivi’s dramatization of Stalin’s Cows at the Joensuu City Theatre, I was astounded by Kivi’s talent, I am thrilled that she is now working on a TV series version of my novel.”
–Sofi Oksanen

Premiere date and territories where the TV series will be released are yet to be announced.

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