Marja Kangas
Publication date
June 2020
Format info
285 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.


Finnish PDF
English sample translation 82pp
Author letter

Prizes and nominations

2019, winner of the WSOY Writing Competition


“A humorous, insightful—even surprising—story of one woman’s predicament in the relationship jungle.” — WSOY fiction competition panel

“[The Only Way is Up] was the winner of WSOY and Prisma’s Writing Competition, which was specifically looking for an entertaining page-turner about relationships. It’s no wonder that Kangas won: her novel is a wonderful example of chick-lit… This book is filled with self-irony from beginning to end, which is exactly what makes it such an exhilarating read.” — Johanna Suominen, Savon Sanomat newspaper

“Simultaneously a description of the breakdown of a marriage and the kind of novel that makes you scream with laughter.” — Jari Pietiläinen, Helsingin Uutiset newspaper

“A hilarious novel!”— Eeva-Kaarina Solmela, Ilta Sanomat newspaper

“Marja Kangas’ novel The Only Way Is Up, tells the story of a woman whose husband unexpectedly demands a divorce. Despite the book’s difficult subject matter, the story is light and—in the end—the woman realises that life continues.” — Marja-Terttu Yli-Sirniö, Viva magazine