How-To Read Finnish Dystopian

“Water walks with the moon and embraces the earth, and it isn’t afraid to die in fire or live in air. When you step into it, it will be as close as your own skin, but if you hit it too hard, it will shatter you .”
― Emmi Itäranta, Memory of Water

Nowadays I never read or especially like Finnish literature (except few books), because I often find that books of Finnish authors miss something. Sometimes it’s the plot, sometimes it’s the language. Often I read a book through and I end up thinking that I didn’t  really get what it missed but something it lacked. . This is why I was really surprised to find myself reading Emmi Itäranta’s debut Memory of Water (Finnish: Teemestarin kirja = The Tea Master’s Book).

What I liked about this book was that the setting was in Finland and plot and characters were original. I liked Noria as not so many dystopian main characters live very privileged life. I also liked the fact that in this dystopian world, somehow there was strong tea drinking culture (poor coffee drinkers) and tea ceremony.The writing was beautiful, use of words was excellent in this book and the fact that Itäranta translated the book herself (I think?) makes the English kind of nicely different.

What I really  did not like about this book was how the plot was built very well  and then the ending was rushed. I waited for the next level for the whole book and there never was one. And the ending seemed a bit fake. There could have been much potential to take things slower and turn this book into trilogy.

I would rate this book 6½ – 7/10.

Death is water’s close companion, and neither of them can be separated from us, for we are made of the versatilitiy of water and the closeness of death. Water doesn’t belong to us, be we belong to water: when it has passed through our fingers and pores and bodies, nothing separates us from earth.”
― Emmi Itäranta, Memory of Water

How-To Read Memory of Water
1
I think you will find the setting to be interesting: Finland! Also the book has common and less common Finnish names that make reading interesting. At same time if you are Finn, names aren’t so typical that they would annoy you.
2. 260 pages and ending seemed a bit rushed to me and I hoped there could be a sequel but I doubt that there will be. I was disappointed as I was expecting something much more from this book and Finnish literature in general but I don’t regret reading this book.
3. I liked how it was realistic: China is the most influential country, there is plastic and junk everywhere and something has gone wrong with the weather so that Noria, the main character, has never really seen what snow looks like.
4. Philosophical, I liked how Itäranta described the water as element (as you can see in the quotes and pictures)
5. Book has been translated well into English but of course you could always try learn Finnish ;) Personally, I think both titles match the book well. Finnish: Teemestarin tytär and English: Memory of Water.

                                              Buy Memory of Water: A Novel on Amazon

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