Mika Waltari

Mika Waltari (1908-1979) is the most popular 20th century Finnish writer who is best known for his magnus opus The Egyptian. Over a career that spanned five decades, Waltari published well over 100 works, of which 200 translations have been made. His works include at least 30 novels, 20 plays and 15 novellas, as well as short stories, poems, screenplays and essays. In 1957 he was appointed to the Academy of Finland, having previously won the state literature award five times. Waltari’s works have been translated into over 40 languages.

Waltari is best known for his historical fiction. His most famous such work is The Egyptian, which was set in Egypt during the 18th Dynasty in 1300BC and was published in 1945. Immediately becoming an international bestseller, the book deals with themes of disillusionment and resignation among the Finnish bourgeoisie when the Second World War caused all of its values to collapse.

Many of Waltari’s novels are centred around the fate of humanist values in a materialist world. After the Second World War, Waltari started writing historical novels that expressed his pessimism and, later, his Christian world view.

As a twenty-year-old Waltari became one of the lead figures of The Torchbearers, a Finnish literary movement who were inspired by Russian and Italian futurism and sought to take Finnish literature into the rest of Europe.

Waltari dabbled in many literary genres publishing crime fiction, poems, short stories, essays, fairy tales, travel books, screenplays, plays and memoirs, some of which were published in Finnish magazines under a pen name. He was the first notable Finnish crime writer: his Inspector Palmu series are internationally renowned and have been adapted for film by Matti Kassila.

Read more about Mika Waltari: SKS’s National Biography of Mika Waltari
Read more about Mika Waltari’s life: Books From Finland

Select fictional work:

The Chinese Cat and Other Stories, 2008
Five Aces and Other Stories, 1999
Christmas Stories, 1985
Young Johannes, 1981
The Locked Box and Other Stories, 1978
The Roman, 1964
It is Written In the Stars, Inspector Palmu!, 1962
The Secret of the Kingdom, 1959
The Tongue of Fire, 1958
The Etruscan, 1955
Moonscape and Other Stories, 1953
The Dark Angel, 1952
A Nail Merchant at Nightfall, 1949
The Wanderer, 1949
The Adventurer, 1948
Journey to Istanbul, 1948
The Egyptian, 1945
Dance Over the Tombstones, 1944
Fine van Brooklyn, 1943
Love in Times of War, 1943
From Father to Son, 1942
Catherine, 1942
Never a Tomorrow, 1942
Inspector Palmu’s Mistake, 1940
This Kind of Thing Never Happens, 1939
Who Mrdered Mrs. 
Skrof?, 1939
The Wonderful Joosef, 1938
A Stranger Came to the Farm, 1937
City of Sorrow and Joy, 1936
Do You Want to be a Writer?, 1935
The Orange Pip, 1931
A Lonely Man’s Train, 1929
The Grand Illusion, 1928

Works