For a Finnish humorist, Daniel Katz (b. 1938) is delightfully unpredictable and non-linear. The events in his novels and short stories become hilariously jumbled as his heroes, cast into a senseless world, seek to create order in their lives.
Katz has been called the first Finnish-language Jewish author, although he is not content with the ironic handling of the members and traditions of a closed society, taking the whole of Europe as his stage instead. Katz’s gregarious characters are constantly on the move: they journey through Europe and history in search of their roots – or else attempting to escape them.
His debut work, When Grandfather Skied to Finland (1969), is a colourful family chronicle and an examination of the Finnish mentality from the perspective of an outside observer. In Mikko Papirossi’s Heavenly Headlock (1972), the construction site of an oil refinery is cast in the role of a modern Tower of Babel.
Katz has a distinctive gift of grabbing the reader’s attention with a clever combination of tragic and comic elements. Blaster (1979) tells of a Finn of Turkish descent whose preferred mode of communication since his school days is to blow things up.
Of his later works, Schweinehund (1992), features a rector who goes to Germany to make up for the wrongs his father suffered there in the 1930s as a circus performer. A Pier out to the Sea (2001) is a fascinating study of a ménage à trois, which received great critical acclaim. The novel was also nominated for the Finlandia Fiction Prize.
Common to all the novels is an staggering wealth of minor characters, and so it is no surprise that Katz is also a prolific short-story writer. The Daughters of Lot (1999) is a faithful recasting of Biblical narratives, in which a man who claims to be God loses the world to a Sicilian Mafia don in a board game. The Love of a Berber Lion (2008) is a collection of awe-inspiring fables featuring animal-like humans in love.
In addition to novels and short stories, Daniel Katz has been very productive in writing stage plays, tv- and radio plays.
Read also Daniel Katz interviewing Daniel Katz in Books from Finland online!
2015 Pro Finlandia medal
2001 Nominee for the Finlandia Fiction Award
2009 State Prize for Literature
1994 Nominee for the Runeberg Prize
1992 Nominee for the Runeberg Prize
1977 State Prize for Literature
1971 State Prize for Drama
The Love of a Berber Lion and other stories (Berberileijonan rakkaus ja muita tarinoita, short stories, WSOY 2008)
– published also in French
A Pier out to the Sea (Laituri matkalla mereen, novel, WSOY 2001)
– published also in Estonian, French, German and Polish
The Daughters of Lot: Godlike and Godless Stories (Herra Lootin tyttäret: Jumalallisia ja jumalattomia tarinoita, short stories, WSOY 1999)
– published also in German and Polish
Othello (Otelo, novel, WSOY 1994)
Schweinehund (Saksalainen sikakoira, novel, WSOY 1992)
– published also in Dutch, Estonian, French, German, Hungarian and Slovak
The Torso of a Woman and other stories (Naisen torso ja muita kertomuksia, short stories, WSOY 1989)
Antti Kepler’s Laws (Antti Keplerin lait, novel, WSOY 1987)
– published also in Slovak
The Hundred Year Old Egg (Satavuotias muna, novel, WSOY 1983)
Tinsmith’s Dinner (Peltisepän päivällinen, novel, WSOY 1981)
Blaster (Laturi, novel, WSOY 1979)
The Death of Orvar Klein (Orvar Kleinin kuolema, novel, WSOY 1976)
– published also in French, German and Swedish
Mikko Papirossi’s Heavenly Headlock: An Antinovel (Mikko Papirossin taivaallinen niskalenkki: Epäromaani, novel, WSOY 1972)
– published also in German and Hungarian
When Grandfather Skied to Finland (Kun isoisä Suomeen hiihti, novel, WSOY 1969)
– published also in Czech, English, Estonian, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovene, Spanish and Swedish