"This book reads like a collection of home videos you just uncovered: unplanned, unedited, and cutting in their emotional perspective. From its opening pages, riddled with that bittersweet feeling of a fresh start after an accidental loss, The Red Book of Farewell is a meditation on the things that make us human: in this case, the narrator's experiences of queer love and revolutionary action in 1970s Finland and all that follows her, or is lost, thereafter."
For fans of Tove Ditlevsen and Karl Ove Knausgaard, an enigmatic work of autofiction set in a time of leftist politics and criminalized sexuality.
One morning in 2002, on an island off the coast of Finland, the narrator Pirkko Saisio tells her editor she’s accidentally deleted her latest manuscript, a book called The Red Book of Farewells. Whatever that book was is gone, but in its place is this story of a life: her life. And the lives of those around her—family members, student radicals, actors, and lesbian lovers in underground bars. It’s a story of leftist in-fighting, broken relationships, and finding new paths.
Pirkko Saisio’s brilliant autobiographical novel, in Mia Spangenberg’s tender translation, is a contemporary classic of lesbian desire and politics. Composed as a series of farewells—to her mother, girlfriends she thought she’d spend her life with, and finally her daughter—the novel guides readers through Finland in the late-twentieth century. It’s a world where art and communist politics are hopelessly intertwined; queer love is an illegal force of creation and revolt; and a heart-to-heart conversation with the activist playwright Bertolt Brecht is a mere dream away. Playful and mysterious, The Red Book of Farewells is a work that stoically embraces the revolutionary potential of moving on.