Hytti nro 6 (Compartment number 6) 2011, WSOY

Hytti nro 6

Compartment No. 6
Original title: Hytti nro 6

A Finnish girl studying archeology in Moscow in the late 1980s, leaves behind the big city, her boyfriend and the boyfriend's mother. She desperately wants to see the ancient rock-paintings in Ulan Bator, Mongolia.

She shares the train compartment with a huge Russian man in his forties, travelling with garlic and vodka in his bag. The girl is silent, the man speaks. His speech is loud and vulgar: it grows from hard experience and a grotesque view of the world. He has grown up in the streets, been in prison for murder, and is now on his way to a big construc- tion site in Siberia.

The train lingers for a long time at many stations, sometimes more than a day. At these stops, a changing country can be seen – the Soviet Union, where ”everything is moving, snow, water, air, clouds, wind, towns, villages, people and ideas.” The girl becomes the man’s prisoner, she cannot leave the cabin, she must see and hear all about Soviet life, and soon enough experience it herself.

The trip is a nightmare, and at the same time a twisted, beautiful story. Compartment no 6 is a novel, where there is room for both joy and piercing pain in the same sentence.

Sample translations



 “The literary composition alone is worth the money, the melodic, rhythmic language, compressed, poetical and replete with fragrance and colour sensations… The girl and the man, this unlikely couple, accompany one another at the close across the plains as if progressing through a film by Andrej Tarkovskij.” (Svenska Dagbladet)

“The outcome is both atmospheric and beautiful, an elegy to the Soviet Union and its people, the land where ‘unhappiness is perceived as happiness’.” (Helsingborgs Dagblad)

“All this black as night misery and despair are elevated by the writer into literature. She achieves this by means of the girl’s acute observations and sensitivity and the man’s luxuriating exaggeration and burlesque vehemence… The entire text is saturated with marked sensuality: the taste of buckwheat porridge, beetroots and rancid fat. And the human smells of sweat, fusel alcohol and poverty… And thus ‘Hytti no 6’ becomes a remarkable little book.” (Göteborgs-Posten)

“The wild stories of the rough fellow passenger make this journey increasingly absurd, giddying and captivating… It is a stroke of genius to describe a country and give form to one’s mixed feelings for it through such a figure. To me, he is the incarnation of the human factor, which means that reason can never prevail, neither in planned nor in Capitalist economies.” (Aftonbladet)

“Liksom is a master of controlled exaggeration. With a couple of carefully chosen brushstrokes, a mini-story, she is able to conjure up an entire human destiny.” (From the motivation for the Finlandia Prize)

"The most fascinating thing about this short novel is Rosa Liksom’s masterly ability to visualise life and landscape. She is an artist, after all, and the imagery in the book is often very surprising and always loaded with meaning.” (Hufvudstadsbladet)

sales sheet

Sales sheet (PDF)

Rights sold

Danish/Tiderne skifter
Lithuanian/Kitos Knygos
Swedish/Wahlström & Widstrand
World English/Serpents Tail UK

The nomination for the Nordic Council Literature Prize 2013

The Nordic Council Literature Prize is awarded for a work of literature written in one of the languages of the Nordic countries. Established in 1962, the prize is awarded every year and is one of the most prestigious awards that Nordic authors can win.

The nominations for the Nordic Council Literature Prize 2013 have been announced by the national members of the Adjudicating Committee.

  • Rosa Liksom Hytti nro 6 (Kupé nr. 6) Novel, WSOY, 2011, Wahlström & Widstrand 2012 (Translation Janina Orlov)

The prize winner will be chosen by the Adjudication Committee for the Nordic Council Literature Prize and announced at the Nordic Council Session in Oslo at the end of October 2013.

Finlandia Prize 2011

Established in 1984, the Finlandia Prize is the most prestigious literary award in Finland.

Helsingin Sanomat (Dec 01, 2011)
Prestigious Finlandia Prize goes to Rosa Liksom

Books from Finland (Dec 01, 2011)
Finlandia Prize for Fiction 2011

Publishers Weekly (Dec 05, 2011)
Liksom Takes the 2011 Finlandia Prize

Helsingin Sanomat (Dec 02, 2011)
Rosa Liksom made good use of a trip on the Trans-Siberian Express

 On the Trans-Siberian express

Books from Finland - a literary journal, Ms Mervi Kantokorpi 3.10.2011 (Translated by Hildi Hawkins)

 A Finnish girl studying archaeology in Moscow finds herself sharing a train compartment with a Russian man on the long journey from Moscow through Siberia to Ulan Bator. The girl travels for weeks to see the region’s ancient rock-paintings; the man’s destination is a big building site. The drama of the enclosed space is built of two people and two worlds that cannot escape one another.

The story, in Hytti no 6 (‘Compartment number 6’) by Rosa Liksom, develops through small stories and reminiscences as the backgrounds of the girl and the man open up. At the places where the train stops, other people from the steppe and cities of Russia become intertwined with the narrative.

The career of the Lapp writer Rosa Liksom spans more than 25 years and demonstrates a rare ability to master various fields of both writing and the visual arts. In the history of contemporary Finnish prose, her novels and collections of short prose are a fantastic chapter of originally developed Nordic localism and post-modernist world citizenship. Liksom’s first book, short prose, was published in 1985; her work has been translated into 14 languages.

In Hytti no 6 (‘Compartment number 6’, WSOY, 2011), Liksom surprises us once again. The writer pays homage to a tradition reflecting the Russian povest, or long short story. This medium-length prose form became familiar to Finns toward the end of the 19th century, in what was then the Russian-administrated Grand Duchy of Finland, when the Finnish-language newspapers of the period published Russian literature in part-work form. Representatives of this form acquired the name novella only later in the 20th century.

The novel is set in the Soviet Union of the 1980s, the period before perestroika. In her works of the 1980s, Go Moskova Go (in English: Go Moscow Go, 1991) and Väliasema Gagarin (‘Space station Gagarin’), Liksom (the pseudonym of Anni Ylävaara, born 1958) writes about the same places and themes, but in a different, post-modern genre. Palpable in the new story both stylistically and through open references is the world-philosophical seriousness of 19th-century Russian literature, a kind of modern melancholy, which Liksom realises magnificently.

The well-muscled man is a ‘Stakhanovite meat-machine and concrete hero’, brutal, hard-talking and fond of his vodka. Equally terrible is his background: he lived on the street from the age of five and since then has found his university of life going from camp to camp. He tells stories about his countless women and the ‘burnt-out cunt’ of his wife, who has gone through fifteen abortions, as if to pass the time, which makes the girl feel sick. This man both abuses and longs for the same woman.

The girl, on the other hand, is too dry and mummy-like for the man’s taste – which does not prevent him from importuning her. His dull gaze and impudence raise echoes from the girl’s past; his drunken ramblings are too familiar. Her own father is the Finnish version of this foul-mouthed monster.

Why do I love this country, the girl wonders, and the reader wonders the same thing. When they finally reach Ulan Bator, the ancient rock-paintings almost go unvisited – but then she receives unexpected help from her travelling companion.

Only someone like her can overtake the violent system discipline that reaches as far as Mongolia, which is possible to break down by a credible appearance and a sufficient amount of roubles. ‘People are capable of anything if they are forced to do it,’ remarks an energetic train hostess in the corridor of the Trans-Siberian express.

Russia and its ‘inexhaustible human riches’, as well as the absurdity of the Soviet system, give soul to Liksom’s sometimes poetic narrative, crafting it into a living creature that, like Russian delicacies, combine the sour, the sweet and the salt.

 Trans-Siberian Railway (LINKS)

Trans-Siberian Railway (Wikipedia)
Moscow-Vladivostok: virtual journey on Google Maps
Russian Railway Map