By: Märta Tikkanen
Translated by Stina Katchadourian
A classic Swedish-Finnish novel, haunting, profoundly personal, evocative novel, written in verse, dissecting one woman's fraught relationship with her alcoholic husband.
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Hailed an immediate classic of Finnish literature on its publication in 1978 and an international bestseller that has been translated into 19 languages, Märta Tikkanen’s verse novel is a haunting, profoundly evocative portrait of one woman’s fraught relationship with her alcoholic husband, inspired by the author’s own experience. In language that is as delicate as it is fierce, Tikkanen explores the depths of fear and violence that often accompany addiction and the struggle to reconcile that pain with the deep love and strength necessary to hold a family together through it all. As much a story of resilience as it is suffering, The Love Story of the Century is a bittersweet account of the complexities of addiction, the power of creativity, and the redemption of love.
Märta Tikkanen (b. 1935) is a Finnish-Swedish journalist, writer, and teacher. Much of her writing deals critically with gender roles and the shackles that bind women, as well as women’s liberation and the desire for self-realization. She became a central figure in the Nordic women’s movement with her novel Manrape (1978), which was adapted into a 1978 film directed by Jörn Donner. She is the recipient of several awards for her work, including the Nordic Women’s Alternative Literature Prize, Finland’s State Prize for the Dissemination of Knowledge, the Swedish De Nios Grand Prize, the Swedish Academy’s Finland Prize, and Finland’s State Literary Prize. Her work has been translated into over 20 languages.
Stina Katchadourian is an author and a translator living in Stanford, California. Her most recent book is The Lapp King’s Daughter, a World War II memoir from her native Finland based on her parents’ correspondence and her own personal memories. Her translations have won her the Pushcart Prize, the Södergran Prize and the Translation Prize of the American-Scandinavian Foundation.
“Already a classic, this Finnish novel-in-verse is a revelation. A story of love, addiction and the power of self, The Love Story of the Century feels immediate and immediately relevant. Brave, visceral and a testament to the power of art to explore pain and survival.“ —Mark Haber, Reinhardt’s Garden
“Tikkanen has an unusual ability to let language lightly touch the most delicate topics, to capture the expression of emotion as it is being experienced, and – perhaps, above all – an entirely unique ability to describe falling in love as fresh and new as it is to those who have just been cast under its spell.” —Lisbeth Larsson, Expressen
“Harrowing and singular, this novel charts the unsettling experience of being in a thoroughly flawed marriage, its title looming ominously over the proceedings. But then Tikkanen offers glimpses of better days, and the reader has a sense of how this particular marriage has curdled over time. It’s a haunting look at the fault lines of a relationship.” —Words Without Borders, Tobias Carroll
"Told in verse, The Love Story of the Century is a powerful and intimate portrayal of a woman’s complex relationship with her alcoholic husband. Each word, each phrase has so much weight, so much consideration and nuance to it. The translation beautifully captures all of the tenderness and rage in this smart, spare book. A modern feminist classic."— Pierce Alquist, Book Riot