Becoming an author at the University

Laura Lindstedt found her literary voice at the University of Helsinki.

Text has been published in Yliopisto science magazine.

One of the characters in Laura Lindstedt’s Finlandia Prize–winning novel Oneiron is Shlomith, an artist. She draws from her own anorexia to create a shocking performance criticising Jewish culture. Shlomith is met with both hatred and love. Her message is that “Art can heal our society”.

“I feel close to the character of Shlomith,” Laura Lindstedt confesses.

“She is an extremist in her defence of art as a necessity, but I could not write my books thinking that they will be just a diversion for the tired masses. For me, artistry means having the courage to investigate the things that disturb and influence us. Political activism is a part of the lifestyle."

Lindstedt has always aspired to become an author. As an undergraduate of comparative literature, she had not yet discovered her personal style of writing.

“I felt that I was not a storyteller, and I didn't know how to move forward."

But then, in the late 1990s she found her life partner at the University, the researcher Martti-Tapio Kuuskoski, and through him, the French Nouveau Roman style – and Nathalie Sarraute.

“It was revolutionary to discover my native literary language. The story is not central for Sarraute, Duras or Beckett. Their literary world delves into emotion or a tiny moment, which is then expanded to vast proportions through poetic tools.”

Lindstedt found her momentum after she realised that developing a story is not a necessity.

“As the writing progresses, I can examine my fictitious world, get to know my characters and thus discover the stories."

Lindstedt is laying the final touches on her dissertation on communication in the novels of Nathalie Sarraute.

“To paraphrase my supervisors, the dissertation has so many tangents that it is still in the Cubist stage," Lindstedt smiles.

“The University has given me so much – my life partner and my literary voice. I have also learned that the genre of academic research is a little restricting for me. It is more natural for me to examine issues in the broader frames afforded by literature.”

Oneiron's rights have been sold to several languages, including English.