Currently the best known Finn in Germany, Samu Haber, Sunrise Avenue’s lead vocalist and “The Voice of Germany” juror, reveals his favourite literature in this “Finnland. Cool.” interview.
Samu Haber (second from right) and his band Sunrise Avenue. Press photos by Olaf Heine taken from “Unholy Ground”: www.sunriseave.com
Finland is Guest of Honour at this year’s international Frankfurt Book Fair. How important is Finnish literature to you? Has Finnish literature had any influence on your work as a songwriter?
Samu: Of course I grew up with Finnish literature, but I read much more international stuff, especially biographies. I write songs in English and for some reason it’s easier to get the connection when the book is international.
Is reading important to you? How do you find the time to read with your busy schedule? Which literary genre (such as poems, detective stories, graphic novels, etc.) do you prefer?
Samu: There’s actually a lot of time to read on airplanes, busses and at hotel rooms. I read pretty much. A book is also a better way to relax than a movie or a TV series. A screen makes you feel passive when a book takes you into this imaginary world in a good way.
Who is your favourite author and what was the last book you read?
Samu: I don’t really have a favourite; it all depends on the book. The last three books are “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson, “Escape from camp 14” – story of North Korean prisoners, “I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic” the Swedish football player. I love it when the stuff really happened to people. It just makes the whole thing stronger.
Which Finnish book or author would you recommend to our readers?
Samu: I like Sofi Oksanen. Her books are usually stories of Finnish and Northern European history and that helps to get a connection with the book. She’s also a very cool character in person.
The children’s author Tove Jansson celebrates her 100th Birthday this year. Are you familiar with the Moomins stories? Who were your literary heroes when you were a child?
Samu: Of course everyone in Finland knows her. Moomins are extremely popular here in the north and actually I love them because the stories are very down to earth and also educating for kids. If I have children someday, I’ll definitely read them as bedtime stories to them.
“Finnland. Cool.” is the motto of this year’s Guest of Honour programme. What are the other “cool” aspects of Finland, apart from the low temperatures in winter?
Samu: Finland is pretty similar to Germany actually, we’re both Lutheran countries where people pay their taxes and follow the rules. I like the clean, ecological, Nordic way of life overall, and coolness is a good way to describe the Nordic Countries.
If I had just 72 hours to spend in Finland, what would be the “coolest” places to go?
Samu: Helsinki is a very nice city that most people just don’t ever visit for some reason. I’d go there for one day to visit the great restaurants and for some cool design and other shops. Then the nature we have – it’s very amazing! Imagine, Finland is the same size with Germany but we have only 5.6 million people here. We have more than 100,000 clean freshwater lakes and I’d probably visit our summer house one hour from Helsinki just to experience the amazing beauty of the nature. You can drink the water straight from our lake and the rabbits and deer are by your porch in the morning. Then I’d definitely see some rock concerts in Helsinki. The bands from here are amazing!
The interview is authorized for publication by Samu Haber and his management.