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XV Oulu

ULYSSES European Odyssey

Jenny Kangasvuo
Highlighting mental well-being in Europe today

Eighteen established writers, one from each city/region, will be commissioned to write a chapter in a response to their Arts & Society theme within the context of their city.

Just as Ulysses is innovative in its form and language, so the writers will be chosen with a view to reflecting a breadth of genres, styles and innovations. Each writer will ideally attend their own city’s event. All the (new) chapters from the 18 cities/regions will be brought together in a book publication: ULYSSES European Odyssey.

Jenny Kangasvuo will write the Oulu chapter.

Writer’s Statement

Sexuality and gender have been the themes that I have found to be the most fascinating, and therefore most of my work is at least tangentially related to them. As a cultural anthropologist I have studied bisexuality and sexual politics in Finland, and as a fiction author I have written stories about metamorphoses of the body, sexualities spawned after meeting mythological creatures and most recently, a novel that recalls life as a polyamorous, bisexual person in Finland.

In addition to sexuality and gender I am enchanted by how mythologies are entwined in our everyday lives and how myths are retold today. I have written several short stories in which I reinterpret the stories of women of Finnish national epos Kalevala, as well as a novel that brings the myth of werewolves to modern day.

James Joyce used Greek mythology to create a story of the Ulysses of Dublin, Leopold Bloom. However, Joyce’s Ulysses has become a myth in and itself, a textual tapestry that some find ingenious and some impenetrable. I find it an inspiring challenge to write something new using the layered stories of Leopold Bloom’s escapades in Dublin’s brothels and the adventures of Homer’s Ulysses in the realm of Circe, a mighty wizardess. In this project sexuality, gender and the myths of both Greek and Irish Ulysses are deliciously intertwined.

Writer’s Biography

Jenny Kangasvuo (b. 1975) is a writer and cultural anthropologist who lives in Oulu. Her literary production draws on speculative genres of fiction and is characterized by a slightly different view of reality. In Kangasvuo’s works, werewolves, Kalevala water-nymphs, space explorers, and ancient sages live their daily lives.

Kangasvuo’s non-fiction books have dealt with sexuality, gender, and corporeality, but also with procrastination and violence. She has also written essays about folklore and the status of minorities. Her most recent work is a non-fiction book on Finnish bisexuality and pansexuality based on her research. Kangasvuo also writes academic texts and teaches at the university level.

Kangasvuo is currently writing her second novel that concentrates on the life of a polyamorous person, as well as short stories about less known characters of Finnish folklore and a queer fantasy romance set in alternate history.

Bi- and Pansexuality (Bi- ja panseksuaalisuus), non-fiction, SKS Kirjat, 2022.
The Strong Wings of Hope: Twenty Years of Peer Support for the Families of Victims of Homicide (Toivon vahvat siivet. Henkirikoksen uhrien läheisten vertaistukitoimintaa 20 vuotta), Huoma, 2020.
The Procrastination Revolution (Kotvimisen vallankumous), non-fiction, co-authored with Katri Rauanjoki and Jonna Pulkkinen, Karisto, 2018.
Wolf’s Blood (Sudenveri), fiction, Teos, 2012.