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Tove Jansson: Life, Art, Words by Boel Westin

    Tove Jansson: Life, Art, Words is a comprehensive biography of Tove Jansson by the University of Minnesota Press, spanning 525 pages and translated by Silvester Mazzarella. The UK edition is available through Sort of Books, while the Swedish language edition, titled “Ord, bild, liv: Tove Jansson,” is published by Albert Bonniers Förlag.

    She has been hailed as Scandinavia’s most beloved author, yet the term “author” barely scratches the surface of Tove Jansson’s brilliance. Renowned globally for creating the Moomin stories, she seamlessly combined her talents as a painter, cartoonist, illustrator, and writer, all while leading an unconventional life and fiercely valuing her freedom.

    In this book, author Boel Westin intricately weaves together the numerous facets of Jansson’s multifaceted life: from her education, which was interrupted to support her family, to the bleak years of World War II and her subsequent emergence as a painter. The biography also covers the phenomenon of Moominmania which spanned books, newspaper comic strips, merchandise, and various adaptations. It delves into her later works, including the widely adored “The Summer Book,” and her time spent with her partner Pietilä on the remote island of Klovharu.

    “Tove Jansson: Life, Art, Words” provides fans and admirers around the globe with the most comprehensive portrait of the artist Philip Pullman once described as “a genius, a woman of profound wisdom and great artistry.” Jansson gained international fame as the creator of the Moomins, characters beloved by generations of readers. However, the Moomins represent just a fraction of her prolific creative legacy. Besides her work for children, Jansson also produced short stories, five novels for adults, paintings, murals, and book illustrations.

    Westin draws upon numerous conversations with Jansson and unprecedented access to her journals, letters, and personal archives. The result is an engaging and exhaustive exploration of the life and work of one of Scandinavia’s most cherished authors.

    In this episode, Jacke Wilson interviews biographer Boel Westin (author of “Tove Jansson: Life, Art, Words”) to explore the joyful and unyielding spirit that Jansson infused into her life, loves, and diverse creative endeavors.

    Boel Westin is professor emerita of literature at Stockholm University and chair of the jury for the world’s largest children’s literature prize, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.

    Silvester Mazzarella is a translator of Italian and Swedish literature. His translations include Tove Jansson’s The Woman Who Borrowed Memories.

    Tony M.