Black Cat
Black Cat
Black Cat

The Core of the Sun

by Johanna Sinisalo

From the queen of “Finnish weird,” a captivating and witty speculative satire of a Handmaid’s Tale-esque welfare state where women are either breeders or outcasts, addicts chase the elusive high of super-hot chili peppers, and one woman is searching for her missing sister.

  • Imprint Black Cat
  • Page Count 320
  • Publication Date January 05, 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2464-7
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $16.00

About The Book

“An intoxicating book, sizzling to look at and as spicy as a hot pepper.” —Weltexpress (Germany)

From the author of the Finlandia Award-winning novel Troll: A Love Story, The Core of the Sun further cements Johanna Sinisalo’s reputation as a master of literary speculative fiction and of her country’s unique take on it, dubbed “Finnish weird.” Set in an alternative historical present, in a “eusistocracy”—an extreme welfare state—that holds public health and social stability above all else, it follows a young woman whose growing addiction to illegal chili peppers leads her on an adventure into a world where love, sex, and free will are all controlled by the state.The Eusistocratic Republic of Finland has bred a new human sub-species of receptive, submissive women, called eloi, for sex and procreation, while intelligent, independent women are relegated to menial labor and sterilized. Vanna, raised as an eloi but secretly intelligent, needs money to help her doll-like sister, Manna. Vanna forms a friendship with a man named Jare, and they become involved in buying and selling a stimulant known to the Health Authority to be extremely dangerous: chili peppers. Then Manna disappears, and Jare comes across a strange religious cult in possession of the Core of the Sun, a chili so hot that it is rumored to cause hallucinations. Does this chili have effects that justify its prohibition? How did Finland turn into the North Korea of Europe? And will Vanna succeed in her quest to find her sister, or will her growing need to satisfy her chili addiction destroy her?

Johanna Sinisalo’s tautly told story of fight and flight is also a feisty, between-the-lines social polemic—a witty, inventive, and fiendishly engaging read.

Tags Literary


Fresh chilis. I’ve never seen fresh chilis.

Habaneros, no less. Not anywhere near the strongest kind, but still, more than 200,000 scovilles. A fantastic score.

A bag of little red, orange-tinged, paprika-shaped, fresh habaneros.

Three thoughts come into my mind, in a very particular order.

One. I am about to be buzzed.

Two. There’s stuff on the market again.

Three. Someone’s growing it. And that someone isn’t far from here.

I make us something to eat. Now that I’m assured of my fixes, and they’re really, really good fixes, I can wait half an hour and maximize my enjoyment. I have enough food on hand to make us a sort of thick soup: tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, green beans, salt, pepper. I simmer the chopped vegetables for fifteen minutes and then dump half of them into another pan. The other half is for Jare—the best dealers never touch the stuff themselves.

I put on some latex cleaning gloves to chop the habaneros.

Although I want a really, really good fix, I also know what this score might be capable of doing. So I’ll pace myself. One whole chili should be enough. The aroma of the minced habanero is something new, intoxicatingly fruity and pungent. My mouth begins to water so much that I have to swallow. I pour the pieces in the pan meant for me. Just ten more minutes.

I don’t ask Jare where he got it. Not now. That’s beside the point right now.