In accordance with our meta agreement to have topic challenges and a later meta agreement to have topic challenges lasting for two months and overlapping by one month, it is (actually past) time to announce the February – March 2024 topic challenge.

Based on the number of votes (+6/-1), the second topic challenge fully in 2024 will be:

Katja Kettu

What's a topic challenge?

See the meta posts linked above, and also this main meta post. In short, during February and March 2024 you are invited to try to read at least one work by Katja Kettu and ask questions about it.

Participation is not obligatory in any sense, and questions on other works are more than welcome during February and March too; they just won't count as part of this topic challenge.

How can I take part?

By getting hold of some works of Katja Kettu and asking (or answering!) good questions about them. Questions about these works should be tagged with and and other tags as appropriate. We'll keep a list of all such questions in an answer to this meta post.

Below is Rand al'Thor's presentation of the topic:

Katja Maaria Kettu is a Finnish author, originally from Rovaniemi in Lapland, "one of the most acclaimed authors in Finland today", who's written a number of novels.

Her most famous work is Kätilö (The Midwife), which has been translated into several languages, adapted to a film, and won widespread acclaim - see reviews at Words Without Borders and Goodreads. The Goodreads reviews range from positive to negative, but much of the criticism seems to be based on the difficulty of following the story without knowing some details of Finland's participation in WW2 (consisting of at least three separate conflicts: the Winter War, the Continuation War, and the Lapland War), while learning something about this history as part of reading a story actually makes it more appealing, in my view, as long as you're prepared beforehand to have to do that. Apparently the story doesn't skimp on gore and explicit descriptions - it's about a midwife in wartime, after all - so be prepared for that too. A sample English translation is available online.

What's next?

  • Vote for the next topic challenge (March–April), or propose your own topic!
  • Feel free to edit links into this post if you find some good resources of Kettu works available to read online.

1 Answer 1


List of all questions posted in this topic challenge

  1. Do we know "The Midwife"'s real name? by Clara Diaz Sanchez, 04/03/2024.
  2. Why does Masha address Wild-Eye as "Parmuska"? by Clara Diaz Sanchez, 07/03/2024.
  3. Reason for the final paragraph in Kettu's "The Midwife" by Clara Diaz Sanchez, 13/03/2024.
  4. Origin of Dostoevsky quotation, used in "The Midwife" by Clara Diaz Sanchez, 17/03/2024.

The highest-voted of these is Why does Masha address Wild-Eye as "Parmuska"?, with a score of 5 at the end of March.

The most viewed is Why does Masha address Wild-Eye as "Parmuska"?, with approximately 156 views by the end of March.

One question, the same one as above, received at least one answer.

Special shoutout to Clara Diaz Sanchez for single-handedly asking questions about this topic.

Reviews submitted to our Tumblr blog: TBD.

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