Katja Kettu
Publication date
October 2018
Format info
272 pp.

Rose is Gone

Rose on poissa

A wild and lyrical epistolary novel about love, unfulfilled dreams and finding your roots by award-winning writer Katja Kettu

Ettu wakes up at his home on a Minnesota reservation one day to find his beloved Rose is gone. At the police station, it turns out that Rose is not the only thing he’s missing; he’s lost all the past thirty-five years that she has been missing from his side.

The story of Rose’s disappearance and Ettu’s decline is narrated by their adult daughter Lempi. Half-Ojibwa, half-Finn, Lempi struggles with the inevitable conflict of her own identity – too white on the reservation and too Indian off it. Lempi pieces together the fragments of the kaleidoscopic canvas of her life: childhood recollections of her mother’s presence; the bitter, episodic stings of adolescence; nostalgia and the distant roots in the distant homeland of her Finnish grandparents. Gradually, she comes to understand how memory sustains our identity, experiences, and worldview – as well as the healing power of oblivion.

With echoes of Blixen and Marquez, Katja Kettu’s fifth novel, Rose is Gone is a sweeping narrative suffused with a reality-transcending hope: a love story that sparks into flame, telling a tale rich in its prose under the thrall of the unfettered imagination, of a reality that is more hopeful than those of many others’ in today’s world.


Rights sold:

Czech (Argo)
Estonian (Koolibri)
German (HarperCollins)
Hungarian (Gondolat)
Swedish (Albert Bonniers Förlag)

Shortlisted for the Finlandia Prize for Fiction Award 2018
Winner of the Public Readers’ Vote Finlandia Prize for Fiction 2018


‘Lempi writes letters to her teenage love, in which she ponders why her Ojibwe mother, Rose, abandoned her and her Finnish father, Ettu. Lempi then discovers letters from her mother, telling her of Rose and Ettu’s tempestuous love story, which is woven into myth and carried by Kettu’s richly-melodious and enchanting language.’Statement of the Finlandia Award Jury

‘Like Stephen King’s Rose Madder, Kettu writes about the growing rage of the subjugated woman […] in captivating language that enchants and seduces.’ – Kaleva

‘[A book] one cannot but admire. The admiration begins from the start and only ends once you’ve put the finished book down. In Katja Kettu’s hands, the magical witch’s drum beats big and loud. Its shamanistic rhythm lends a believable, mythological echo where no boundary exists between the real and the spiritual worlds. In this world, mythology and beliefs are both equally vivid as the landscape you see with the naked eye. Katja Kettu’s Rose is gone is everything but an average book; it’s a visionary novel with a long life ahead of it, well beyond just this season. Helsingin Sanomat

‘If you read just one Finnish novel this year, read Rose is Gone, Katja Kettu’s magnificent, Twin Peaks-like mystery. Mysterious language and an intense, passionate story absorb the reader into a magic thrall, falling under its spell entirely after mere tens of pages. […] Exceptionally brilliant.’ Aamulehti, ★★★★★

‘A beautiful, heavy and at once demanding yet enjoyable book. Forming its basis, Kettu’s personal links to both Finnish immigrants as well as Native Americans brings everything together with effortless fluidity, though scenes depicting relations between the first nation and the powers that be make for difficult reading. Most beautiful is the language in Kettu’s writing. Expressions and their rhythms, together with the portrayal of the characters and landscapes, demand the reader’s attention, whilst drawing you in to the story and offering up both challenge and pleasure. Definitely one of the year’s top books, if not the topmost! – Hämeen Sanomat

‘A full-blooded story of love and violence.’ Turun Sanomat 

‘The rhythm of the unusual Finnish language and the metaphorical weaving of emotion, nature and humanity becomes understandable through the necessity of introducing the imagery, vocabulary and history of indigenous cultures in all its abundance between the covers of this book. At moments throughout, the stagnation and oppressiveness yet beautifully mystical and dreamlike realities of the reservation hits you.’ Keskisuomalainen

‘The novel portrays the historical oppression of native Americans and subjugation of women with the underlying idea that only by revealing the truth can individual repair their broken identity.’ – Savon Sanomat

‘If you only read one Finnish book this year, Rose is Gone is an excellent choice.’  Satakunnan Kansa

‘…wildly intense.’  – Ilkka magazine

“Kettu’s unique, poetic language… is extremely expressive and provokes a physical reaction from its reader. It’s spell-binding: it flows like ice-cold spring water and sizzles like water thrown onto the hot stones of a sauna.” – Sirp, Estonia 

Rose is Gone is a beautifully written story of injustice, love and finding oneself between two identities… Rose is Gone is a colourful story…. This book is filled with the expressive and lively language that is characteristic of Katja Kettu, but this book is more poetic and beautiful than ever.” – Postimees, Estonia

“Kaija Kettu is a master of love stories.”  Raamatukogu, Estonia



‘Rich, haunting, beautiful and cruel, ROSE IS GONE is an incredible novel!’ Lotta Aquilonius, Senior Editor, Albert Bonniers Förlag



‘Kettu writes sensuously, in lush, and boldly playful language that is a pleasure to read.’Kirjaluotsi blog

‘This work has been written by a man who possesses the power of words, some sort of magic power to rotate both words and phrases and story. […] ROSE IS GONE touched my soul, but did not stay there – because it pierced my heart.’ – Lumiomena blog

‘…rich and sensual – full of imagery.’Marjatan kirjat blog

 ‘Kettu’s magic circle captivates and enchants. […] A fine novel and reading experience.’Kirjasta kirjaan blog 

‘A story that lingers for a long time after reading, but softly so.’

‘Kettu is searingly skilled. Again, her use of language, creation of atmosphere, and wealth of knowledge and historical context are admirable.’Kulttuuri kukoistaa blog 

‘Love, anger, fear, and sadness intertwine to play on the emotions, that won’t leave you unmoved. […]  re-confirms Kettu is a skilled wordsmith.’  – Kirjakaapin kummitus blog

‘Kettu captivates the reader.’Habaneran havaintoja blog

‘ROSE IS GONE is a fine novel – strong and sad, yet quiet and wild all at once.’Kirjan pauloissa blog

‘This is a gentler Kettu, but still fully recognisable in terms of the language and theme.’ –  Lukuisa blog

‘A passionate and remarkable love story.’ Jorma Melleri’s blog


For foreign rights queries and reading material, please contact Eleonoora Kirk, eleonoora.kirk [at]