Mika Waltari
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508 pages

The Orange Pip


A heart-breaking novel about one family’s eternal search for happiness.

The Orange Pip tells the story of a Helsinki family over the course of one year. Irene, the family’s eldest child, is just about to graduate and her brother, Kai, is a couple of years younger than her. Reinhold, their father, is a distracted, old-fashioned professor. Reinhold‘s wife Sanni  is a traditional woman who often argues with Irene about her lifestyle choices.

The one thing that unites the family is that they are all individually searching for happiness. Ostensibly, everything is going well, but all of them feel as though something is missing.

Irene seeks pleasure from men she meets at parties, eventually striking up a relationship with a married lawyer in his mid-thirties. This causes an unthinkable rift in the family and, as Irene’s relationship gets more serious, she grows increasingly distant from her parents.

Upon publication in 1931, The Orange Pip caused outrage for its portrayal of premarital sex.

“In my novel, I have tried to describe the new generation as I see most of it a dissatisfied, immature, wandering generation that has had too much and always wants more the generation that aspires to material values, imagining that it can find happiness in a shallow, fragmented life of pleasure. The individual pursuit of happiness in its modern, deceptive form is the basis of my novel. Through it, I have been forced to touch upon the brokenness of modern family life and the erotic problem of the youth.” – Mika Waltari in 1931

Mika Waltari (1908-1979) is the most popular 20th century Finnish writer who is best known for his magnum opus The Egyptian. Over a career that spanned five decades, Waltari published well over 100 works, of which 200 translations have been made. His works include at least 30 novels, 20 plays and 15 novellas, as well as short stories, poems, screenplays and essays. In 1957 he was appointed to the Academy of Finland, having previously won the state literature award five times. Waltari’s works have been translated into over 40 languages.


“Waltari knows everything about human nature and he’s has a unique ability to describe it skillfully. It’s a great pleasure to read good quality Finnish language which seems modern, perhaps paradoxically, since it’s actually old-fashioned. The book’s topicslove and the search for happinessare as relevant now as they were 70 years ago.” Kirjavinkit