2010, The Day the Whale Swam Through London
Orig. Eksyneen muistikirja

A magical novel about getting lost in one’s own mind.

Anna lives simultaneously on many levels. Her mind has become detached from reality. Time has been shattered. Anna observes that the fragments of her life are in disarray.

The island and the sea are familiar to Anna. Her familiar landscape also includes her husband, Antti. Anna is pushed over the edge by Antti’s sudden death, and by the fact that she did not have children. She starts searching aimlessly through time and place. She tries to settle in London and, for a while, is given some freedom by the metropolis to be different. She always remains close to a tipping point however.

Anna does her best to try and remember what her life consists of, but she cannot. She runs away from herself and hides.

Selja Ahava’s novel, The Day the Whale Swam Through London , combines realistic fiction and fantasy in an impressive way. The fantasy world of someone suffering from memory loss is mundane to the victim but, to an outsider, it is somewhat peculiar. Anna’s memory problems are the result of her life experiences, and are an ongoing tragedy. We are given a glimpse of Anna’s soul and her humanity.


"A book about forgetting and remembering, an imaginative linguistic masterpiece that is moving, distressing and yet comforting. Selja Ahava is a Finnish author with a unique voice: Her book is an auspicious foretaste of guest country Finland's presence at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2014." WDR5 Bücherquartett

"A tender, wonderfully poetic book about the loss of memory. ... Highly recommended!"

"A tender book about forgetting and the power of words. (...) Tragic, comical and fairytale-like."
Börsenblatt des Deutschen Buchhandels

"A touching novel, finely-woven and narrated with clarity and precision." Badische Zeitung

"A poetic, tragicomic and moving book. Finnish author Selja Ahava's début novel The Day the Whale Swam through London possesses a rare, peculiar magic."
Ostthüringer Zeitung

"Magic Realism: Selja Ahava, a rising author from Finland, relates this unusual tale of dementia that is filled with longing and subtlety."

"With gentle, melancholic brush strokes, Finnish author Selja Ahava paints an impressively unusual portrait of the protagonist Anna, a woman suffering from dementia. She is described with empathy and respect, leaving her personality and dignity intact."
Neues Deutschland

"A contemplative book filled with wonderful stories … And for all its fascinating language, the book remains an enigma. It withholds easy solutions, insights, or even explanations of this complex situation in which the protagonist exists. It gives us a glimpse into a strange, unknown world without intruding upon it, allowing plenty of space for our imagination to roam." HR2

Rights sold:
Finland, Gummerus
Germany, Mare
Korea, Munhakdongne