Sorrow’s ElegyA Family's Story of Loss and Re-DiscoveryAnna Takanen
“It takes four generations for a war to leave a family. I am the third generation.”
These are the words of Swedish theatre director, actor and writer, Anna Takanen. In 1942, aged four, Anna’s father Timo was evacuated by air across the freezing Gulf of Bothnia from Finland to Sweden. As the vestiges of the Second World War wrought devastation on Finland with the Continuation War and Winter War that would kill young Timo’s father, neutral Sweden offered a safe haven for Finnish children.
On losing their bread-winner, the Takanen family’s circumstances soon become dire; when Timo falls ill, his mother’s desperation to save his life outweighs her need to have him close by, so she— and over 70,000 other Finnish mothers—makes the heart-wrenching decision to place her son on the child transport to Sweden in the hopes of improving her son’s chances of survival across the sea.
SORROW’S ELEGY is the heartbreaking story of Anna Takanen’s slow, and increasingly painful unearthing of her father’s family history, coming to understand the experience of being a child of war. Father and daughter travel together to Finland, at first in silence, but when she confronts him to tell his tory, both father and daughter realize that the emotional scars the family has tried to forget, still casts a long shadow down the generations.
Anna Takanen’s story of her family’s past and present has an acute relevance to our time, providing a much-needed perspective on the refugee crises still happening across the globe today. A true story first rendered as a critically-acclaimed play, Anna Takanen now writes her transgenerational story with remarkable presence and tenderness.
Historical Note: between 1939 and 1945, during the Winter War and the Continuation War, a total of ca. 72,000 children were evacuated to Sweden. Some 15,500 of these children did not return to Finland.
“In nuanced, poetic prose, Takanen brings to life a family’s trauma and her own childhood as the bullied child of a war child.” — BTJ
“I haven’t read such a good story in a long time.” — Åsa-Maria Berg Levinsson, librarian
“…rarely have I been so moved by a book as this—an incredibly fine book.” — Bo Bergman, Akademibokhandel