"When I read [<em>Atonement</em>] I was blown away" ... Riikka Pulkkinen.
Finnish novelist Riikka Pulkkinen (left) talks about her favourite books.

Atonement - Ian McEwan
When I read this novel, I was blown away. I instantly knew this was the way I wanted to write - the structural nuances, the way McEwan played with different genres. For my novel True, I invented a similar character to young Briony in Atonement: a catalyst character. You can read Atonement without realising it is really told by Briony. But if you figure this out, the novel gets to a whole other level.

Diary of a Bad Year - J.M. Coetzee

Austerlitz - W.G. Sebald
Austerlitz opens our eyes to the impossibility of comprehending the European trauma of World War II and to the fallibility of memory. The technique of the narration is very delicate: the coincidence of time and place, the combination of pictures and prose, the way time starts to unfold as if it was a place in the universe when the narrator is willing to look into his past directly, unflinchingly.

The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
It took me a while to understand the enchantment in the unreliability of Ishiguro's narrators. We the readers know as historical fact what Stevens tries to escape in his narration: the brutality of the Nazi regime. Stevens's loyalty is a metaphor for something more horrible and once I understood the metaphorical level of this novel, I wanted to learn how to write in that subtle manner.

Madicken - Astrid Lindgren
This children's novel is one of the first books I read. Set during World War II, Madicken tells the story of a seven-year-old girl from a typical Swedish middle-class family. Through the eyes of Madicken and her little sister, Elisabeth, we get insight into the social circumstances of that era. Lindgren's novels taught me about the real world and only as an adult did I realise how political and humorous her books were.

Riikka Pulkkinen is a Finnish novelist. Her first novel, Raja (The Border), came out in 2006, but her second novel, True (Scribe, A$29.95), marks her English-language debut