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Krohn, Leena

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1947-    ) Finnish author whose first novels were composed for younger readers, an example being Ihmisen vaatteissa: Kertomus kaupungilta (1976; trans Bethany Fox as "The Pelican's New Clothes: A Story from the City" in Collected Fiction 2015), whose young protagonist experiences a magical City through his relationship with the eponymous talking bird. Krohn's focus on multivariant experiences of urban life [for Beast Fable and Urban Fantasy see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] may have reached its apotheosis in Tainaron: Postia toisesta kaupungista (1985; trans Hildi Hawkins as Tainaron: Mail from Another City 2004), which is structured as a series of letters written from the eponymous city, whose inhabitants are insects and through whose intricate lives it is possible to see, illuminated through this complex mirror, Homo sapiens reflected. The tone of Tainaron reflects, though not slavishly, the work of Franz Kafka and Italo Calvino, and bears some resemblance to Stefan Themerson's Professor Mmaa's Lecture (1953), though the focus of the latter book is directed outward from the termite city at its heart. Oofirin kultaa ["Gold of Ophir"] (1987; trans Hildi Hawkins in Dona Quixote and Other Citizens; Gold of Ophir omni 1995) is a fantasy set in an edifice whose highly various inhabitants comprise the heart of a seemingly Middle-Eastern city; its companion volume, Donna Quijote ja muita kaupunkilaisia: Muotokuva ["Doña Quixote and other citizens: Portrait"] (coll 1983; trans in omni cited above), which is set in something like Helsinki, also works as an assemblage of portraits that converge into a vision of the human species.

Krohn's later sf tends to depict Near Future worlds through narrative structures built around similar insect-eye complexities of vision, though it is only on a first encounter that they may seem fragmented: in Pereat mundus, Romaani, eräänlainen ["Pereat Mundus: A novel of sorts"] (1996; trans as Pereat Mundis 2010) a mosaic of protagonists, all with the same name, and all exemplary of Homo sapiens, inhabit a surreal Dystopia; the reborns (or Clones or Avatars or simply shadows) who inhabit the eponymous Hotelli Sapiens ["Hotel Sapiens"] (coll of linked stories 2013) bear the selves of significant exemplars of the human species, and tell their tales. Throughout her prolific career, with a fluent wit that savingly infiltrates narratives that might otherwise seem didactic, Krohn has focused on work design to enforce scrutiny of ourselves as a species. Her novels and stories seem increasingly germane. [JC]

Leena Elisabeth Krohn

born Helsinki, Finland: 28 February 1947




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