A fascinating debut novel about the fragility of memory and the power of silence
In the early 80’s, Markus Siltanen moves his family to East Berlin and becomes a foreign correspondent. Vilja, his daughter spends her childhood immersed in the East German way of life, and thinking, until the family eventually returns to Finland. Over time, Vilja’s memories of her childhood dissolve, much like the country itself, into nothingness.
In 2011, after her father’s death, Vilja finds a bundle of letters from someone called Margot with whom her father had a passionate affair in Berlin. Vilja makes a decision to track Margot and returns to Berlin. The transformed city still bears some memories for her but the most important pieces seem to be missing. Her search for Margot, rips open everything she thought she knew about her parents and her childhood.
Vilja’s quest to unearth the truth about her family’s past progresses like a thriller but is most aptly categorised as intelligent narrative fiction alongside the novels by Ian McEwan and Sarah Waters. Yours, Margot evolves into a narrative about the demise of an ideology and a great love story. It is also an elegy of the victims of both.
Yours, Margot is more than just a book you should read right now, it is one of those novels that captures why we should read at all.
Yours, Margot was published with unprecedented praise in Finland, winning the prestigious Best Debut of the Year Prize, and becoming an instant bestseller.
2021, Winner of the Best Debut of the Year Prize
Estonian (Hea Lugu)
Lithuanian (Alma Littera)
Norwegian (Bonnier Forlag)
Swedish (Bazar Förlag)
‘The description of the novel sparked my interest immediately – – I loved the beautiful writing, the theme, the fantastic sense of time and place. It is so fascinating to read about East Germany in the 1980’s, and the story of Vilja’s search for Margot and the truth about her childhood reads like a mystery.’ – Karin Linge Nordh, Publishing Director Bazar Förlag, Sweden
‘Yours, Margot has so many ingredients that we crave as both common readers and as publishers: A strong narrative drive, credible and fascinating characters and an interesting setting. This is a novel we believe has the potential to reach out to a broad readership – to readers of historical fiction that want to learn something new about a specific time and place and to readers who simply want to be entertained by an exciting story about people they get to care about. – – Valkama´s novel comes across as an elegantly multilayered and well written story, that fully deserves the wonderful Best Debut of The Year Prize.’ – Hilde Rød-Larsen, editor, Gutkind, Denmark
‘From what little I’ve read of the novel my interest is really piqued, I am very much wondering where Meri Valkamal will take me, and how. She’s got an impressively assured voice in her first novel. It’s always a frustration with a novel that you cannot fully read yourself, but I judge now by my own thirst for more, and of course the award and the brilliant reviews. One of my all time favourite authors is Finnish – Väinö Linna, I keep returning to his books – so I’d love to have an original, interesting and mind blowing Finnish author on my list. Meri Valkama seems perfect for that spot!‘– Anne Fløtaker, Bonnier Forlag, Norway
’I am amazed by Meri Valkama’s ability to connect an entire nation’s right to its past to a clock-ticking plot about an individual discovering her true self. The volume of pages is enormous, but not at all too much. (…) [This novel] appeals to the emotions and should be translated into other languages immediately.’ – Antti Majander, Helsingin Sanomat newspaper
’A daughter finds secret clues from the GDR. Meri Valkama’s novel combines individual people’s little life with a great narrative.’ – Turun Sanomat newspaper
’Valkama’s novel has an unusual twist.’ – Hufvudstadsbladet newspaper
‘A debut novelist’s remarkably mature and controlled work that speaks to our whole continent.’ – Helsingin Sanomat newspaper
‘The further the story progressed, the better I understood that this was a work much bigger than its themes would initially suggest. Reading this novel, I started to think about our relationship with memory and remembering from a new perspective: how we are defined by the way we remember our life history, and how our entire understanding of ourselves can change when that conception is muddled.’– Eeva magazine
‘Yours, Margot is proof that the art of the novel is still very much alive. It is a skilfully narrated, elegant work that pulls the reader in in a way that is impossible to resist. Nothing in its 556 pages feels superfluous. (…) The character arcs are touching. The best thing about the book is that the characters’ personalities take shape throughout the novel, all the way up to the final pages. Valkama’s beautiful, refined language makes reading a pleasure. (…) Reading this novel is truly an experience.’ – Anni Saari, Keskipohjanmaa newspaper
‘Yours, Margot is a laudable work, but as a debut novel, it is exceptionally so. It is skilfully crafted and well-grounded. Valkama knows how to power the story so that anyone who wants to will get hooked. I can imagine many readers gushing to their friends: “I devoured Valkama’s book in one sitting!’ – Tommi Melender, Suomen Kuvalehti magazine
‘Debut novelist Meri Valkama reflects on the conflict between remembering and “truth”: why it is it so hard for us to reconcile our experiences of the past with the picture presented to us as the truth. This award-winning novel asks some people’s memories are accepted as truth while others’ are not.’ – YLE Broadcasting Company
‘Yours, Margot holds you in its grasp from start to finish, and the end seems to come very quickly.’ – Kulttuuritoimitus
‘Meri Valkama’s arresting novel is a powerful social commentary: it reveals society’s meaning for the individual. A framework amid which we live our lives: fall in love, suffer disappointment, marvel at time’s passage, and tell a story about ourselves. We write letters, dream, desire to be alone and connected with others. History vanishes, memory frays, and amid all this is the individual and their unique life. Yours, Margot tells about this, about life, memory, and history, and does so in a way that makes us see each other beautifully. This is what we are like.’
– Anna-Riikka Carlson, Publisher, WSOY