The Matter of Death and Life (KUOLEMAN JA ELÄMÄN KYSYMYS) by Maria Katajavuori recently won the “State’s Award for Public Information”, given by the state’s Science and Culture minister for excellent work in popularizing science. The award has been awarded annually since 1968, and is given out to works that have had a significant contribution to the public information during the previous year.

The motivation reads as follows:

“When I was born, I had already begun to die.” This is the opening line of Maria Katajavuori’s The Matter of Death and Life. In the book, Katajavuori states that both cells and civilizations are self-destructive systems that do not seize the possibility of eternal life but choose death instead. The phenomenon explains why our bodies are ageing, why species are becoming extinct, and why human communities are destroying their environment. While the thesis might sound desperate, the book’s message is the opposite: understanding suicidal systems is the first step into finding workable solutions to prevent environmental damage.
The text moves from small to large and from biology to social science at a breathtaking pace. Katajavuori compares the degeneration of the human body to a malfunctioning toaster, presents mucus as a model for sustainable consumption, and equates the features of snakes caught by raccoons with misleading environmental advertising. However, this is not a superficial rhetorical trick, but a chain of well-argued claims.

The Matter of Death and Life by Maria Katajavuori is an original and thought-provoking work. Thanks to its exquisite narrative and beautiful language, the book, despite its dark theme, is an enjoyable and action-packed reading experience, a kind of roller coaster that leaves the reader in a shaky condition.”

We extend our congratulations to Ms Katajavuori on this incredible accomplishment!


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