Illustrator(s)
Publication date
2014
Publisher
WSOY
Format info
335 pages

Where Four Roads Meet

Neljäntienristeys

 
A finely observed portrayal of people who build dreams to forbidden heights

 

A convincing, emotionally stirring debut about reconstruction era Finland, little people, big buildings, and double lives.

The young midwife Maria arouses suspicion among her fellow villagers. An independent spirit, she handles difficult births with aplomb and finally gains the respect she desires, but doesn’t realize she has become captive to yearning.

Her daughter Lahja, who was born out of wedlock, wants to incorporate into her own life everything her mother rejected as dead weight. A refugee returning to the warscorched north, she craves contact in her marriage, while her war hero husband Onni trawls the cities, seeking moments of forbidden, short-lived bliss.

Decades later, Kaarina decorates the house that has been emptied of her father-in-law’s dreams, eager to tear down what others have erected into silence.

Where Four Roads Meet is a finely observed portrayal of people who build dreams to forbidden heights.

”Everyone chooses the doors they will enter, picks their way through porches and pantries”

 

Where Four Roads Meet has been topping the charts in Finland and sold over 80 000 units to date (all formats).

Two theatrical adaptations of Where Four Roads Meet premiered in Finland in 2016 with high praise in the media.

Where Four Roads Meet was adapted for opera in the Oulu City Theater in January 2017. The operatic adaptation celebrates the Centenary of Finland’s independence in the same year.

 

Awards and nominations

2016 Shortlisted for Europese Literatuurprijs (The Netherlands)
2015 Thank You for the Book Prize (Finnish Booksellers’ Association)
2015 Best Book of 2014 Award (The Grand Finnish Journalism Prize)
2015 Young Aleksis Prize
2014 Shortlisted for the Finlandia Fiction Award
2014 Shortlisted for the Best Debut of the Year Prize

 

Rights sold

Chinese, Simplified (Chinese International Radio Press)
Croatian (Hena)
Czech (Argo)
Danish (Rosinante)
Dutch (Prometheus, The Netherlands)
Estonian (Varrak)
French (Albin Michel)
German (DVA / Random House)
Greek (Utopia)
Hungarian (L’Harmattan)
Icelandic (Bjartur)
Italian (Edizioni ETS)
Japanese (Shincho-sha)
Latvian (Zvaigzne ABC)
Lithuanian (Alma littera)
Norwegian (Pax)
Polish (W.A.B.)
Slovenian (Cankarjeva Založba)
Swedish (Norstedts)
Turkish (Bencekitap)

 

Reading material

Czech edition
Danish edition
Dutch edition
Finnish edition
French edition
Estonian edition
Lithuanian edition
Norwegian edition
Polish edition
Slovenian edition
Swedish edition

Excerpt in English
Review in English
Report in French
Report in Swedish

 

Praise for the work

Finnish media on Neljäntienristeys (WSOY, 2014)

”An exceptionally competent opening statement by all accounts.” – Helsingin Sanomat

Where Four Roads Meet is a stark, though-provoking novel.” – Savon Sanomat

”Kinnunen’s first novel is a mature and interestingly rugged book. […] If shaping opinions through the medium of a novel is possible, Where Four Roads Meet approaches this with great affection.” – Turun Sanomat

”In Where Four Roads Meet, gender is a prison constructed by the body.” – Aamulehti

”Tommi Kinnunen writes brilliantly.” – Kotiliesi

”Tommi Kinnunen’s intensive first novel depicts the transition stages of Finland captivatingly through the individual.” – Olivia

”In his first novel, Tommi Kinnunen writes beautifully about disparity, alienation and secrets. He writes of giving birth, building a house, and even making pancakes extremely skilfully. Where Four Roads Meet is the finest first novel of the spring.” – YLE

Where Four Roads Meet is a remarkably mature, polished and refined first novel.” – Literature blog Kirsin kirjanurkka

”Kinnunen’s strengths lie in his understanding of the human mind and its skilled depiction.” – Literature blog Kirjanainen

Where Four Roads Meet will play on your mind and enters your dreams.[…] I was stunned, and admire Kinnunen’s skill especially in his depiction of women and how he reaches the different phases of the life cycle.” – Literature blog Tuijata

”[…] the characters and events of the novel are imprinted in your mind for life with one reading.” – Literature blog Lukukausi

Where Four Roads Meet is a fantastic, strong novel; you will be pleased to have read it.” – Literature blog Kulttuuri kukoistaa

“An impressive family story portraying the experience of feeling like an outsider, of being different and not being accepted by one’s family. The novel portrays the development of human dignity in the midst of the pressure of a strict and silent community, and leaves an open space for readers’ own insights.” – The Jury of the  Finnish Grand Journalism Prize

Where Four Roads Meet is a touching and strong story of tenacious women. The novel is both about being different and of the change of the Finnish society. The altering voices of the narrators of the story make the structure of the novel particularly successful and keep the reader captivated. The writing is beautiful, the description of the protagonists is skillful, and their individual fates are fascinating, the novel is a well-balanced and a refined whole. Where Four Roads Meet is a brilliant and timeless debut novel.” – The Jury of the Thank You for the Book Prize (Finnish Booksellers’ Association)

“Where Four Roads Meet is a powerful, intensively told and a balanced story of the life of people in three generations in a northern Finnish community, at the mercy of the surrounding nature and of social control. It is a story of people who are in need but are not always able to bear with one other, a story of difference and endurance, a story of making space for oneself and for one’s own dreams. A masterful portrayer of people, Tommi Kinnunen sketches with sparse strokes strong, vibrant, and unforgettable characters, whose human essence is made visible in carefully constructed and delicate scenes. At the same time Where Four Roads Meet becomes an impressive contribution for the human dignity.” – The Jury of the Finlandia Prize

“Already the name of the book refers to the encounter beween four different ways of life. The novel is unique by both its narrative and structure: the reader gets direct access to the center of the events and is able to empathize with the protagonists portrayed with honesty and discretion. Kinnunen’s intelligent expression brings together several generations of people without underestimating the reader’s ability and the joy of weaving these threads of life into a whole. ” – The Jury of the Young Aleksis (Nuori Aleksis) Literary Prize (The Association of Finnish Language Teachers together with high school students)

 

German media on Wege, die sich kreuzen (DVA / Random House, 2018)

“A great, sensitive portrait of three generations. A rightful award winner.” – flow

“As impressive as it is poignant. Not a word too much is expended in this rattling loneliness. And yet the author creates a vibrating tension…” – Die Rheinpfalz

“Kinnunen proves his narrative mastery, treating his characters with compassion, briefly introducing them and then handing the threads into other characters’ hands. Yes, a family novel – but definitely not like any other.” – Hellweger Anzeiger (Unna), Ulrich Rubens-Laarmann 

“A courageous book – profound, rousing and astoundingly perfect. (…)  With each chapter, like film cuts, Kinnunen puts the gaze of another character, and another time, into focus. In the end, we have experienced one hundred years of seemingly normal family history, including many scenes that are beautiful, many that are commonplace and some that are tragic – as is the case in almost every European family. But here, both the theme of emancipation and the homoerotic play a disproportionately strong role, in this mystifying masterpiece.” – Kulturexpresso

“A sadly beautiful family story. Artfully constructed, the novel understands how to bring the reader closer to the protagonists as human beings, to communicate their hopes and dreams – but also their mistakes. For me, this is already one of the most beautiful books of early 2018!” – Bookseller Markus Felsmann, Cologne, Germany

“A great novel. A special kind of reading pleasure and an end that I will hardly forget because it tells the novel over again.(…) Outstanding, brilliantly narrated, fascinatingly constructed.” – astrolibirum.wordpress.com, Arndt Stroscher

“If one mentions that in the town of Kuusamo it gets so cold that the cows’ udders freeze, one might think that Where Four Roads Meet is just another quirky Finnish novel. And Finnish it is. But different. Serious. Essential.” – Kurier, Austria 

“Exciting, captivating, moving – absolutely worth reading!” – Tanja Bergold, borromaeusverein.de

“Artistic!” TEN POINTS OUT OF TEN – Buchdoktor, buechereule.de

“This great book (…) a sensitive novel, wonderfully written!” – Holy-Magazin, Germany

“A very good debut novel (…) an outstanding women’s novel about 3 generations of women” – Buchtipps, stephanus.de

“Artistically woven!” – sl4lifestyle literary blog

“A successful debut novel that spans an arc over the entire 20th century with all its vibrations. In an epochal and sumptuous manner, Tommi Kinnunen artfully weaves together the fates of four people whose dreams are greater than the possibilities offered by life. Despite disappointment, they fight for their happiness.” – Magazin Frankfurt

“Kinnunen is a great narrator. His family novel has captivated me from the first page to the last so much that I wish I could free myself up to read it one more time. A TRUE 5-STAR NOVEL that will certainly move into my personal “all-time favourites list”! (…) An absolutely recommendable book!!!!!” – Buchhandlung Am Sand

“Well constructed and in a dazzling style (…) Incidentally, it was the elliptical narrative style of the author, his perfectly applied art of omitting and excluding, that almost intoxicated and always animated me to read on. With his refined style, the author suggests something in one part of a figure, which in the following is then continued from another perspective. I can only agree with the verdict of the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad: “Excellently crafted – and consistently surprising.” So read it for yourself, read it for sure!” – Hartmut Fanger, Schreibfertig.com

“In addition to the life stories, influenced by historical events and the social conditions of the time, the novel also surprises above all with its clever construction. Kinnunen weaves the life stories together tightly and allows the events to be told from the different perspectives of different generations, so that the plot, with its details, is gradually completed. The result is a big picture. (…) The deeply human novel touches in a variety of ways and captivates with its multi-layered characters and their fates that stay with the reader.” – Zeichen & Zeiten literary blog

“An unusual, extremely readable and entertaining novel!” – mona lisa bloggt! literary blog

“The characters are multifaceted and full of contradictions – almost like in real life.” – Falter, Austria

“Luckily, Finnish teacher Tommi Kinnunen leafed through family albums and did not shy away from giving his ancestors a voice.” – BRIGITTE woman

“Fortunately, this discovery from the far north is now also available in German. … Very moving.” – Kronenzeitung, Austria

 

French media on Là où se croisent quatre chemins (Albin Michel, 2017)

“This first novel from the Finnish Tommi Kinnunen (b. 1973) spans exactly a century. It begins on a background of war, going through the successive destructions and reconstructions of the house that, in the end, forms the only connection between these beings. Although they share the same roof, Kinnunen’s characters remain a mystery to one another. Their destinies merely cross paths, without ever meeting. A disconcerting vision of family and a subtle book with a title that could not have been more aptly chosen.” – Le Monde

“(…) to stir the earth, to be build up farther and higher only to deconstruct once again, is this the image of a life that progresses or a state of powerless rumination? In the superb first novel from the Finnish Tommi Kinnunen, b. 1973, it is both at the same time. (…) One of the pleasures of reading the work is to be immersed in the nature and climate of Finland: there is summer, but the true Finland lies in the snow and saunas. The never-ending countryside breaks down and, at the same time, the characters cross and seek out their place. They build so they will feel less alone, forget what they have left behind and bury their secrets and scandals. This novel, which deals equally with the feminine and masculine identity (ever the story of a place), confirms for us that honesty is not always the best policy. (…) A chilling depiction of vices. (…) A remarkable portrait of a woman (…)” – Libération

“In this family saga, the debut novel of Finnish Tommi Kinnunen, secrets borrow unexpected voices and paths. (…) Each chapter takes makes a leap in time, becoming imbued with inhabited or imagined places, like “The Lost Path” or “The Road of Elation”. Everything is accompanied by lessons. How to tame it? Tommi Kinnunen does not present any clear answer. In moving his protagonists forward along with the times, he nevertheless reveals snippets of history, the spoils of war and the advent of household appliances. (…) The Ibsenesque ambience shows that an apparent state of calm can mask bitterness, frustration, pain and hope.” – Livres Hebdo

“Tommi Kinnunen retraces an eventful century of Finnish history, marked by the ravages of the second world war. He paints touching portraits of women, but, paradoxically, provides the most unexpected illumination in his text through the figure of Onni, mysterious husband and son-in-law, who “had got married like you are supposed to, had had two children. Gone to war like everyone else. What had he done wrong? This is not the life he wanted.” I liked everything about this novel, the writing, the construction, the icy atmosphere of a land covered in lakes and forests, a reserved people with conservative values from which it is difficult to break free. Without a doubt, Nordic literature will not cease to surprise me (and to delight me immensely!).” – Journal d’un lecteur curieux

“Ce très beau livre est une fresque familiale intimiste, très prenante, qu’on ne lâche pas; parfois pesante, souvent émouvante, un huis clos rugueux dans un climat rude avec quelques moments de chaleur de vie et d’affection fugaces et touchantes, où les sentiments de chacun dans sa singularité sont à fleur de peau mais le plus souvent tus et verrouillés. Un livre fort, un univers qui happe et ne laisse pas indemne. On y retrouve toute la puissance d’évocation de la littérature nordique.” – Atlantico

“J’ai tout aimé dans ce roman, l’écriture, la construction, l’ambiance glaciale d’une pays couvert de lacs et de forêts, un peuple taiseux aux mœurs conservatrices dont il est difficile de s’affranchir. Décidément, la littérature nordique ne cessera de me surprendre (et de me ravir au plus haut point !).” – D’une berge à  l’autre Literary blog

“Ce livre magique nous emmène dans de belles descriptions comme pour nous assassiner lors de scènes difficiles.” – Les amis de la bibliothéque Annonay
 
“Une écriture sobre, fragmentaire, des ellipses dans la narration, et pourtant une belle fluidité. Des évènements décrits différemment selon la personne qui les raconte mais qui donne une belle vue d’ensemble. On pense un peu à Herbjørg Wassmo, à ces grandes sagas familiales du Nord avec ces gens rudes, ces taiseux qui luttent contre les éléments, contre la misère, contre Dieu lui-même. C’est un grand et beau roman aux personnages forts.” – Le bateau livre

“Voici un roman comme on les aime ! Foisonnant, subtil et roboratif. (…) L’intérêt de ce roman, au-delà d’une histoire malgré tout atypique réside particulièrement dans l’écriture. Chaque partie est racontée par un narrateur omniscient. Pourtant, cette narration extérieure nous fait rentrer dans la tête des personnages, de leurs émotions, de leurs combats intérieurs. C’est remarquable. La chronologie est bousculée, c’est au lecteur de la reconstituer au fil des quatre récits. Chaque personnage a sa part d’ombre et de lumière et surtout, même si tout se passe en Finlande avec un contexte culturel et historique qui n’appartient qu’à ce pays, ce qui est dit est universel.”  – Mediathèque Decines

 

Norwegian media on Der fire veier møtes (Pax, 2016) 

“You don’t have to read many pages of Tommi Kinnunen’s debut novel to realize that the book is unique. He describes strong women in a rough environment and life during the war. He depicts demanding love in a marriage, and how family secrets characterize one generation after another. But first and foremost he manages to renew the family novel genre. Because Kinnunen is different. He writes short chapters and strong scenes, where much is left unsaid. (…) The style of writing is reminiscent of Carl Frode Tiller’s Encirclement – books and Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s Everything I Don’t Remember. Where Four Roads Meet” stays in you after reading. Fædrelandsvennen

Tommi Kinnunen has an unusually strong linguistic talent. He sparkles, be it when he reproduces scathing dialogues, paints powerful time images or turns the intrigue in unexpected directions.” – Dagbladet

“A book that cannot fail to make an impression on the reader.” – VG

 

Swedish media on Där vägarna möts (Norstedts, 2016)

“It is Lahja’s husband, Onni, who is the real tragic figure in this family drama. The deeper reason behind this shall not be revealed here, but Tommi Kinnunen has apparently attached the greatest importance to Onni’s portrayal when he has composed the novel. And well-composed it is.Jonas Thente, Dagens Nyheter

“An original and a strong debut which deserves to have many readers also in Sweden”. – Sven Nyberg, Norrbottens kuriren

“The literary season begins well. I can understand why Where Four Roads Meet has been praised in Finland. I think that this is a book that I will carry within myself.” – Ingela Rutberg, Kristianstadsbladet

“Tommi Kinnunen’s debut is perfect, which is rare, written with strong empathy for people’s fates and their fight against prejudice and narrow-mindedness. It will be very exciting to follow this Finnish author’s literary trail. I can already see that there will be a trail to follow.” – Anna Rudberg, Corren

“Sensitive and convincing. (…)  Kinnunen has written a compelling novel and and it will be exciting to follow him in the future. This book has many memorable scenes, like the one when Lahja’s blind daughter Helena is standing in front of a newly opened window in the house and asks: “Can you see far?” The answer is : “All the way to where the four roads meet“. It is in such dialogues that the story is woven and the tone is set, they are full of promises, opportunities and desire to live.” – Thomas Kjellgren, Borås tidning (BT)


Dutch and Belgian media on Waar vier wegen samenkomen (Prometheus, 2015)

“His [Kinnunen’s] description of the house over time is particularly beautiful. It was originally the pride of the owner, but gradually it becomes a kind of prison – a symbol of the oppressive, narrow world that the residents would like to escape.” – Statement of the Jury, Europese Literatuurprijs 2016 

Where Four Roads Meet is certainly a must for literary and active readers who like to be surprised by beautiful phrases and by stories composed in a very special way. It’s not a quick read, and the novel takes time to settle in the reader’s mind after the last page is turned.” – Anne Oerlemans, Cleeft

Finnish debut author Tommi Kinnunen is a bestseller in his own country, and rightly so.” (…) Without being explicit or moralistic, in its descriptions of three generations the novel carries a message of empathy and understanding. The novel implicitly asks how to be a good person. This is a welcome change in today’s postmodern climate where cynical storytellers too often set the tone.” – Lieven Ameel, De Morgen (Belgium)

“(…) the construction of the novel is extremely clever with ‘open spaces’ (entirely according to the work of literary theorist Wolfgang Iser) and intertextuality. Kinnunen’s idea for his novel is admittedly surprising.” – Kester Freriks, NRC

“It is intriguing how the author is able to make the reader think about the motives of the four protagonists mainly through not telling things, through the blank spaces in the story. By describing only minimally, sometimes in a film-like manner the events in their lives make the puzzle pieces fall slowly in their place. I read this Scandinavian family novel in just one go, full of compassion”. – Bibliotheek.nl

 

Estonian media on Nelja tee rist (Varrak, 2015)

“Reading Where Four Roads Meet is like completing an artwork of mosaic. The narration of each protagonist perfects the story, adding a new dimension, a new layer to the story.” – Kkaktus Literature Blog

“A surprisingly good find in the Modern Times Series. The story of different generations is written narrowly and accurately, and the effect is very  convincing. Perhaps it an example of how much can be said in very little. Variations in the different points of view are a pure pleasure to the reader.” Maemaailm Blog

“The novel is really good, mature literature, although the author has not really published anything before. Text chapters lead the reader forward, many things remain unexplained, unconnected and something seems to be in constant progress, but the author ties everything up at the end of the book.  Where Four Roads Meet  is not a light easy read, which could have explained its surprising success with the readers. No, it is an absolutely structured and internally intertwined work without any single shadow.” – Piret Saluri, Looming

“The protagonists of the story belong to a family whose unhappy, complex and somewhat unpredictable destinies rather quickly dig into your soul. (…) Where Four Roads Meet is one of the most memorable reading experiences for me in the near past”. – Marie Saarkoppel, Lugemissoovitus Blog

 

Danish media on Hvor fire veje mødes (Rosinante & Co, 2015)

“Masterpiece: Phenomenal Finnish family saga with great picture of the times, exquisite portrayal of people and a moral, that hurts. (…) Finnish literature is having a veritable golden age, and Tommi Kinnunen is a discovery.” – Jyllands-Posten (who rated the book six stars out of six!)

“The talented Finnish writer has found a shape in which his materal fits so well that you get sucked in the story.”  Politiken

“Tommi Kinnunen, whose debut novel Where Four Roads Meet is, writes so well and in such a structured manner that the readers are immediately gripped by the life of this family seen from different angles.” Helsingør Dagblad 

“Beautiful, beautiful novel (…)” – Lars Poulsen, Bogrummet

“Kinnunen manages to provide a truly well written story, in beautiful and well-considered language. A story which tells us that everything is not always straightforward and how our lives and how we live the life leaves deeps tracks. Not just for in ourselves, but also for those who cross our path, and those who come after us.” (…) “A novel about the rooms that we build for our families, and for our dreams.” – Dagbladet Ringkobing