Marja Kangas
Publication date
June 2020
Format info
300 pages

The Only Way Is Up

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A laugh-out-loud novel about surviving when life gives you lemons but you don’t like lemonade… 

Sirkku’s sailor husband, Jalo dramatically dumps her. Shocked she didn’t see it coming, Jalo’s bolt out of the blue decision sends Sirkku spiralling out of control on a rollercoaster of emotions.

As a professional actress, Sirkku ought to be more in touch with her emotions and know how to deal with them, but this time she’s totally out of her depth, calling on her friends, therapistseven the universe—for help.

What follows can only be described as a shipwreck: Sirkku sends far too many texts she might later regret, gets a brand new hairstyle, goes to an organ concert on a whim, and gets drunk on box-wine in her wedding dress.

A shamelessly entertaining, uplifting, and delightfully ironic novel about love and divorce by a new voice with buckets of talent, The Only Way is Up is Marja Kangas’ debut novel about finding yourself in a crisis and learning how to get out of it. With its unbridled combination of elation, crying a river and feeling very, very sad, Marja Kangas delivers all the ingredients of a side-splitting novel, with clear comparisons to Nora Ephron’s Heartburn, David Nicholls’s Us, and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love.

Marja Kangas was the winner of major Finnish publisher WSOY’s 2019 writing competition to find the next, new voice in commercial fiction. The competition panel faced the daunting task of choosing a winner from an overwhelming 788 entries, but it was Marja, who won their hearts and minds with her novel.

Marja Kangas (b. 1974) is a drama teacher and writer, originally from the Finnish town of Kuopio, though she divides her time now between Barcelona and Turku, Finland. She also teaches creative writing and yoga, and takes great pleasure in having a good, long cry followed by a good laugh—often to herself first. The Only Way is Up is her debut novel.



Materials available

Author letter
English sample translation, 70pp
English synopsis
Finnish edition


“A humorous, insightful—even surprising—story of one woman’s predicament in the relationship jungle.” —WSOY-Prisma Prize for Fiction panel

Awards and nominations

2019, Winner of WSOY Writing Competition