Kati Kovács wins first-ever state prize for comic art
Finland’s first-ever state prize for comic art has been awarded to Kati Kovács, a native of Finland who is now living in Italy. The jury said they chose Kovács because of her strong and original female figures. Two other state prizes were awarded for literature in 2014: one to Finnish-Chinese translator Riina Vuokko and the other to the poetry publishing collective of Poesia.
Comic artist Kati Kovács, translator Riina Vuokko and the poetry publishing collective Poesia all won state prizes for their work in Finnish literature in 2014. The awards are worth 15,000 euros each and were distributed by Minister of Culture and Housing Pia Viitanen on Friday.
Kati Kovács is a pioneer of artistic comic narrative. She has worked actively in the business since the early 1990s and comic circles call her "the female Robert Crumb".
“Kovacs has created a distinctive visual world, where her stories disregard the rules and regulations of daily life. The strong female characters in her work challenge traditional gender roles, already inspiring two generations of young comic artists to question the standards of the industry,” the award’s jury said in its justification.
Kovács’ new comic narrative book Deltan kaksoset (Delta twins) has been described as her best work to date. She has also made a full-length animated film with Lisa Limone and Maroc Orange at an Estonian animation studio. The film deals with the exploitation of migrants as slave labour.
State literary translation prize to Riina Vuokko
Two state prizes were awarded for literature in 2014: one to Chinese-Finnish translator Riina Vuokko and the other to the poetry publishing collective of Poesia. Riina Vuokko is best known for her work translating Nobel Prize winner Mo Yan’s novels from Chinese into Finnish. Her Finnish version of his Nobel Prize-winning novel Life and Death are Wearing Me Out (Seitsemän elämääni) was published last year.
“The Finnish translation is casual and relaxed and doesn't kowtow to anyone, just as in the original. It conveys a balanced off-colour humour, while all the while keeping in the same register,” the jury described.
In Yan’s novel, the protagonist is reincarnated again and again as different animals.
“Through the main character, a genuinely perceived and distinctive picture of Chinese culture is portrayed for the reader, complete with all of its political storms and human strife. This picture is fortified by the excellent knowledge of the country and language sense of the translator,” the jury report continues.
Poesia revolutionises the publication of poetry
The Poesia publishing collective concentrates on poetry alone. It is run by a group of new generation poets and literary professionals. Its first works were published in 2009.
“Poetry requires room for manoeuvre, courage and constant renewal. The Poesia collective has utilised the requisite critical energy and creative madness in a wonderful way to renew the poetry scene,” the jury stated.
The state prize aims to highlight the importance of good publishing in the field of Finnish literature and word art.
“The prize is not only in recognition of work well done, but in appreciation of the faith of the collective in the future of important poets’ work and the growing power and enthusiasm of cooperation in Finnish poetry.”
The National Council for Media Art, Comics and Illustrations awarded the state prizes for comic art and literature.