Author(s)
Meri Valkama
Illustrator(s)
Publication date
2021
Publisher
WSOY
Format info
556 pages, 84,000 words

Yours, Margot

Sinun, Margot

A magnificent novel about the fragility of memory and the power of silence by a gifted, new voice from the Nordics. 

In the early 1980s, journalist Markus Siltanen relocates with his young family from Helsinki to East Berlin to work as 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.

In 2011, after her father’s death, Vilja finds a bundle of letters addressed to ‘Erich’ from someone in Berlin called ‘Margot’, with whom
her father evidently had had a passionate relationship with. Vilja decides to try and track down this 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.

Rich in detail that immerses the reader into the East Berlin before die Wende, this is an accomplished, suspenseful European novel that evokes stylistic comparisons to both Ian McEwan and Sarah Waters by a gifted storyteller from the Nordics who truly captures the essence of why we should read at all.

Yours, Margot was published to critical acclaim in Finland, becoming an instant national bestseller and winning the prestigious Helsingin Sanomat Best Debut of the Year Prize.

Awards & Nominations

2021, Winner of the Best Debut of the Year Prize

Rights sold

Danish (Gutkind)
Estonian (Hea Lugu)
Lithuanian (Alma Littera)
Norwegian (Bonnier Forlag)
Swedish (Bazar Förlag)

Publishers’ praise

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

‘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

Reviews

‘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.’Keskipohjanmaa newspaper

‘A gripping family drama that avoids social oversimplification. […] The protagonist searches for lost time to find herself. The departure point of Valkama’s debut novel is reminiscent of the tradition of European creative prose.

However, Yours, Margot is not a Proustian mapping of memory, but is firmly anchored in historical time. It fulfills the task given to Balzac by the novel in studying the changing values of society through realistic narrative.

Of its kind, Yours, Margot is a meritorious work, first of all exceptionally meritorious. It is artistically constructed and carefully researched. Valkama knows how to power the story so that those who want to get hooked while reading the novel will be hooked. I can imagine many readers exclaiming to a friend, “I devoured Valkama’s novel in one sitting! […] While Yours, Margot isn’t actually structured around a crime, it has the irresistible pull of a quality thriller.’Tommi Melender, Suomenkuvalehti

‘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 why 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

‘An amazingly mature debut novel.’Eeva magazine

‘A five-star novel. Recommended!’ Lily.com, Finland

‘Yours, Margot is a great work of fiction, the kind that is unputdownable and makes you want to discuss with others after reading – the perfect bookclub read!’ Kirsi’s Bookclub, Finland

‘A five-star novel. Recommended!’ Lily.com, Finland

[So] a solid recommendation for this book.’ Kirjavinkit blog, Finland

‘…a celebration of reading.’ Kirjaluotsi blog, Finland

‘Valkama has constructed an incredibly skillful book…’ Annelinkirjoissa blog, Finland

‘Yours, Margot delights with its skillful storytelling.’ Tuijata blog, Finland