Katja Kettu
Publication date
Format info
236 pages

Pipe Collector


By the lone shores of the Arctic Ocean, man’s sole companion is his imagination


From a certain vantage point in the north you can look down and tell the tales of the entire world. In The Pipe Collector, Katja Kettu takes command of the secrets of storytelling, wielding them like a magic wand. The Dead Man’s fjord is a land of demon dogs, creeping fields of rock, sea fires and churning clouds. War is drawing close, and ahead of it looms fear. By the lone shores of the Arctic Ocean, man’s sole companion is his imagination: tales carried forward by the currants of the sea.

The Dead Man collects pipes that have washed ashore. He gathers them on the stony beach and arranges them on his shelf. A collection is born, bringing tales from the far corners of the world. The pipes have travelled from the favelas of Brazil, the voodoo villages of the African west coast, the meandering waters of the Russian River Volga; they have reached the end of their journeys from the Near East and 1930’s Berlin. They speak of a man who rules the waves, and of a woman who lies waiting for her beloved, burrowed deep into the sand.

Many of the characters in The Pipe Collector have already appeared in Katja Kettu’s award-winning novel The Midwife; others are new. The rights to The Midwife have been extensively sold.

The White Lily of Stalingrad (Pipe Number 11) has been turned into a radio play in Finland.


Prizes and nominations

2014 Shortlisted for the Finnish Literary Export Prize


Rights sold

Czech (Argo)
The Finnish Lapphund (Pipe Number 7) published in Latvian (Domuzime Magazine)
Mulukukka (Pipe Number 27) published in Hungarian (Lettre Internationale)


Materials available

Finnish edition
Czech edition
Extracts in Hungarian and Latvian

review in English available on FILI’s homepage.


Praise for the Work

”Katja Kettu has established herself as part of the enduring family of original and innovative storytellers. Her novel The Midwife has already shown this to be true, and The Pipe Collector, only reinforces the fact. Kettu belongs to the cream of storytellers. She is the Karen Blixen of the far North.” –

”It is impossible to put down this book, as it has to be read all over again, instantly.” – Turun Ylioppilaslehti newspaper

“The stories tell the tales of the owners of the pipes. Several of them feature individuals already familiar from The Midwife, and some of the characters are well-known historical figures. The tales span the period from the early 20th century to the war years, covering a geographically comprehensive area. By transferring her characters from one short story to another, Kettu skilfully links her stories together at the same time.” – Turun Sanomat newspaper

”The words pulsate through the pages like uncontrollable creatures of the polar sea. The narrative reflects an animal strength… The pipes are a proof of the similarity of people, their longing for love and the ways in which it manifests itself.” – Savon Sanomat newspaper

”Each story is the tale that Pietari Kutila, the father in The Midwife, tells his daughter: the tale of the previous owner of the pipe. The treasures of his pipe collection weave his stories into an elaborate web, intertwining elements of fantasy and truth into an amazingly shattered yet single whole – the mosaic of life with all its realities. Kettu transports her readers back to the secrets of the Dead Man’s fjord while simultaneously whisking them across different worlds.” – Turun Ylioppilaslehti newspaper

“The language is brash and bold, the sentences masterful, and the human destinies pummel you in the face with such intensity that the soul shudders.” – Kotivinkki magazine

“The astounding Kätilö [Midwife] made Katja Kettu a household name. The same vivid, carnal language lives on in Kettu’s latest short story collection, The Pipe Collector. (– –) The pipes on the collector’s shelf tell painful, intense, touching and tender stories that carry the reader off to all corners of the world.”  – Maaseudun Tulevaisuus newspaper

“The work creates a fascinating narrative fabric weaving together times and places. Kettu treats life stories with an original touch and universal experiences within a short story’s frames.” – Emma Kaukiainen, Uljas student magazine

“The best thing is Kettu’s lush and original language, a sensuous experience in and of itself.” – Et-lehti magazine

“Kettu writes about madness and prostitutes, and spices her stories with so much sensuous eroticism that Fifty Shades of Grey looks like pale stuff indeed.  At the same time the author describes the human destinies that are missing from the pages of the history books. Kettu is extremely good when writing about imperfection and even evil, which nonetheless has a human face.  She also portrays friendship, with a special emphasis on warmth and sisterliness between women. It is all flavoured with a generous, sparkling humour and a magic that eschews realism. As it says in the book: Don’t mourn for the dead, mourn for those who are afraid of death. Katja Kettu’s fearlessness and verbal virtuosity combine to create a reading experience of great beauty.” – Johanna Sillanpää, FILI