Johanna Sinisalo

Johanna Sinisalo Photo: Katja Lösönen

Johanna Sinisalo
Photo: Katja Lösönen

Johanna Sinisalo (b. 1958) is a Finnish science fiction and fantasy writer and a former copywriter who’s been a full-time writer since 1997. She started writing short stories for various Finnish science fiction fanzines in the 1980s, breaking through in 1985 with her first Atorox Award (for the best Finnish genre short story of the year). After six more Atorox Awards, she was the first Finnish science fiction writer to make a mainstream breakthrough by transgressing genre barriers.

Sinisalo was awarded the prestigious Finlandia Prize for literature in 2000 for her first novel, Ennen päivänlaskua ei voi (translated as Not before sundown in 2003 and again as Troll — A Love Story in 2004 for the American market). The novel has been translated into several languages. Troll was awarded the James Tiptree Jr. Award in 2004. She was also nominated for a Nebula Award in 2009 for her novelette “Baby Doll”.

In addition to editing The Dedalus Book of Finnish Fantasy (2005), Sinisalo has written numerous screenplays for radio and television, as well as worked in movies (Iron Sky, 2012), and been very proactive in the Finnish SF/F scene. Her books have been translated into several languages, English, Swedish, Japanese, French, Latvian, Czech, German, and Polish among others. An avid hiker, Sinisalo’s latest English novel Birdbrain (2010) delves into hiking like Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Blood of Angels will be published in English in 2014, and the international English rights for Core of the Sun have also been sold.

Her novels have dealt with Kalevala and fame (Sankarit [Heroes], 2003 ), reality-TV (Lasilmä [Glass- eye], 2006), eco-disaster (Enkelten verta [Blood of Angels], 2011) and dystopic patriarchaic society, with gastronomical undertones (Auringon ydin [Core of the Sun], 2013). Sinisalo acknowledges Tove Jansson’s Moomins as the most influential books she read at an early age, with Ursula K. Le Guin and Margaret Atwood as some of her greatest literary heroes.

Works in English


  • Not Before Sundown (Peter Owen, 2003); UK edition of debut novel Ennen päivänlaskua ei voi (Tammi, 2000), translated by Herbert Lomas. James Tiptree, Jr. Award 2004. (excerpt)
  • Troll: A Love Story (Grove Press, 2004); US edition of Not Before Sundown
  • Birdbrain (Peter Owen, 2010); UK edition of Linnunaivot (Teos, 2008), translated by David Hackston
  • The Blood of Angels (Peter Owen, forthcoming); UK edition of Enkelten verta (Teos, 2011), translated by Lola M. Rogers
  • Core of the Sun (Grove Atlantic, forthcoming) (excerpt)

Short stories

  • Transit, published in the anthology The Dedalus Book of Finnish Fantasy (Dedalus, 2005) edited by Johanna Sinisalo. First published in Finnish as Transit in the anthology Ensimmäinen yhteys (Pirkanmaan kirjapaino ja lehtikustannus, 1988); translated by David Hackston.
  • Baby Doll, published in the anthology The SFWA European Hall of Fame (Tor, 2007), edited by James Morrow and Kathryn Morrow, also published in the anthology Year’s Best SF 13 (Eos/HarperCollins, 2008) edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer. First published in Finnish as Baby Doll in the anthology Intohimosta rikokseen (Book Studio, 2002); translated by David Hackston.
  • Bear’s Bride, published in the anthology The Beastly Bride and Other Tales of the Animal People (Viking, 2010) edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. First published in Finnish as Metsän tuttu in Aikakone issue 3/1991; translated by Liisa Rantalaiho.
  • The Hunter King, translated from the collection Salattuja voimia (‘Hidden Powers’) by David Hackston