Publication date
Format info
414 pages



In central Finland, a woman slowly climbs a hill to her hiding place from the world. This is Anni Kantto, a single woman with two university degrees but no future.

Anni is 37, is very smart, very fat and in very good health. She has only one problem: the rest of the world.

She has always been extremely fat and suffers under the shame obesity can bring. Because of her size, she cannot get a job or have a proper relationship, and in her desperation she has had to leave her beloved city, Helsinki. But Anni fights her way back to life. She has tried all diets ever created, and she has read all the major studies on obesity and nutrition. She knows the health problems associated with fat are greatly exaggerated.

In a small town she slowly forms a deep friendship with an unlikely ally, her elderly landlady, and starts to build up a new sense of self-esteem.

BIG is a compelling novel of a fat woman’s struggle against prejudice and loneliness. It is based on touching real-life experiences of obese people and the surprising results of health studies on fat. Set in Finland but blending in characters and scenes from many countries, BIG tells a global story of how obesity became the greatest demon in modern life. As the main character Anni slowly gets the courage to face the world, the novel puts the reader right in the middle of the hot debate of our time: what should we do with obesity? Should we be more sensitive to the enormous social pressures obese people face every day?

BIG was published with an enormous media buzz in Finland.


Reading material

Finnish edition
English sample
English synopsis


Praise for the Work

“A book like nothing people have seen before. Pekka Hiltunen has written a novel that the world was missing.” – Aamulehti on BIG

“We predict BIG will be one of the hot topics of this Autumn. (…) Hiltunen knows how to hook his readers. Even though BIG is not a thriller, the author keeps his plot moving with the skill of a suspense writer. The reader devours BIG, and at times it can almost make you feel raged. The rage comes from Anni’s experiences and because of the precise research Hiltunen has done for his book. Obesity is not the monster we have been taught. The book includes a lot of well-grounded information that has not been covered by the media at all.” – Apu

“The anti-heroine Anni is a refreshing main character (…) The novel makes you think, hopefully also about your own attitudes.” – Savon Sanomat

“I feel for Anni so much, I have to keep reading page after page. Towards the end Hiltunen lets his wise – wise also at heart – main character throw herself into almost carnevalistic moods. He also brings into Anni’s life a character called Mrs Scarf, who I liked almost as much as I like Anni. (…) In addition to obesity and the dieting hystery, the book covers other important themes. I was impressed also by the sharp observations and jabs on modern society that the writer makes with solid background work and scary accuracy.”  – Literature blog Amman lukuhetki

“5 stars out of 5. (…) A great reading experience, and most importantly, it really makes you think. Hiltunen’s writing is exquisite and touching, Anni felt very real to me and I lived with her through her joys and sorrows. It felt wonderful to see Anni recover from her setbacks, rise and gather her courage and start to act. This book will compete for my best of the year -list.”  – Literature blog Nenä kirjassa

“Anni’s trials chill the reader. Her story is a poignant reminder of how there are no absolute truths. A great topic, interesting book, and readers expecting fine writing will not be disappointed.” – Literature blog Kulttuuri kukoistaa

“Stirring and superb.”–  Eeva

“Hiltunen is a multiple-award-winning author, best known for his skills with thriller writing. Now he takes a step towards a more everyday topic, and straight away he hits the bullseye. Anni Kantto’s thoughts on food, eating, obesity and work life can fit many peoples’ own life experience and they make the main character easy to get close to and feel sympathy for her. BIG is a funny and interesting story, and it also has page after page solid commentary on our society. 5 stars out of 5.” Voima

“Anni may be the most sympathetic character ever. A thinking woman, with wisdom worth of several people. (…) I read moving strongly from rage, because of the cruelty some people can show, to feeling empathy for obese people, but mostly this novel left me with joy. The joy of living, the joy of existing as a human being. Pekka Hiltunen writes so beautifully, so touchingly, you can only fall for his words. (…) The author has done a lot of background research for his book. This is a story he simply had to write, and oh with what a BIG heart!” – Literture blog Rakkaudesta kirjoihin

BIG is a skilfully written story of a fat person, based on heavy facts. The novel hooks you to read and gives plenty to think about. (…) Obesity is a topical and important theme, and BIG gives us a viewpoint we’ve been missing.”– Kotivinkki

“A necessary discussion opener. Hiltunen’s writing is flowing and strong. He raises in front of us a mirror that should have been raised a long time ago. Anni’s fate is moving, her anxiety almost clings to your skin.” – Turun ylioppilaslehti

“An emphatic novel. A lot happens in the story before the ending climax, but the plot keeps moving with thriller-like tricks. (…) I liked also the factual side, especially as it has been so artfully blended in the fiction.” – Etelä-Saimaa

“A novel of great courage.” – Etelä-Pohjanmaa

BIG should not be seen as “just” a work of fiction, it is such a strong social gambit. (…) Hiltunen, who has previously shown his skills in thrillers, tells of Anni’s life from the present time to her past. The novel reveals this suspenseful drama bit by bit, memory by memory, kilogram by kilogram. Pekka Hiltunen has written a worthy tale of discrimination, shame and obesity hysteria, a book that can be recommended to anyone.” – Kansan Uutiset

“After reading BIG, you will not think of obesity the same way you used to. The exceptional viewpoint of the book makes the story fresh and polemic, and it might well even change the course of health discussions. (—) The thriller award winning journalist-author Pekka Hiltunens writing is so magnificent that towards the end the whole tale soars to flight, just like it should.” – Länsi-Savo

BIG has gathered a lot of attention in the media, and I can sincerely say it really deserves all this buzz. (…) Anni opens her mind with disarming honesty and authenticity, without pitying obese people. You can only admire the author, all the work Pekka Hiltunen has done; he has perfectly succeeded in getting inside the world and skin of a fat person.” – Kirjavinkit

“Anni is a great character, she is at the same time quick-witted, brave and sensitive. Pekka Hiltunen has written marvellous thrillers and now a novel that takes a stand against obesity hysteria, and it becomes an important statement.” – Turun Sanomat 

“This novel should not be rated with stars. No, this novel deserves to be rated with hearts. Thank you, Pekka Hiltunen, thank you once again. Five hearts out of five.” – Literature blog Lukutoukan kulttuuriblogi

“An empowering study of a human being (…) Anni ends up at a positive place in her life, with new peace of mind, independence and friendship. BIG works well as a thought provoking comfort book.” – Helsingin Sanomat

“It is creditable that Anni’s character, based on one theme, has many edges and is anything but simple. So humane. (…) A book that makes you think like this is a fine book.” – Literature blog Booking it some more

“Pekka Hiltunen’s novel BIG, a story of a fat woman’s purgatory in today’s Finland, has been one of the book events of this Autumn. (…) This novel deserves a human rights award.” – Aamuset

“Hiltunen has succeeded in depicting the soul of a big woman incredibly elegantly, and he has done his background work with great care. Anni is all in all a character easy to like, she feels very real.” – Lumen