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Based on actual events, Surviving Stutthof is a tale of survival, hope, and ultimately the triumph of the human spirit.


Surviving Stutthof was nominated for a Northern Lit Award in 2018.


Exciting news! Surviving Stutthof has been translated into Finnish and will be available through Docendo Publishing in August 2020! 


Liisa Kovala has achieved something extraordinary in telling her father’s remarkable story: she has turned living history into living art. Surviving Stutthof reads like a novel, but there is never any question that it is delivering a universal truth.

Wayne Grady,
Award-winning author of EMANCIPATION DAY

The suffering is palpable, yet readers will rejoice in each of the minor victories. In this personal labor of love, the care Kovala takes in recounting her father’s experience is evident on every page. A valuable, unique addition to the canon of survivor stories.

Kirkus Reviews

Liisa Kovala’s Surviving Stutthof is a poignant, lyrical and atmospheric memoir ... the book is not only filled with tension and vivid imagery, but also with the complexity and unique layers of humanity.

Mark Leslie,
Author & Editor


Photo Credit: Gerry Kingsley

Liisa Kovala is a Finnish-Canadian teacher and writer living in Sudbury, Ontario with her husband, Michael, and two children, Mia and Kieran.

Surviving Stutthof, published by Latitude 46, recounts her father’s experiences as a Finnish merchant marine imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp in Poland. It was short-listed for a Northern Lit Award in 2018 and is currently being translated into Finnish.


Her first novel, for which she received a Literary Creation Project Grant from the Ontario Arts Council, explores the life of a former Lotta Svärd as she navigates a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's and her fading memories of life during the Winter War. Look for it in 2021!

Liisa is delighted to receive a grant from the Ontario Arts Council for her work-in-progress, a mystery novel set in Northern Ontario during the 1930s about two Finnish domestic workers.


Liisa is a member of the Writers' Union of Canada, the Canadian Authors Association, and secretary of the Sudbury Writers' Guild. Her work explores her Finnish heritage and celebrates the northern landscape she calls home.



Suomi Fest 2020 - Cancelled due to Covid-19
Women of Steel Event
Finn Festival 2019
Graphic Con: Sudbury Writers' Guild Book Table
Reading Town/Ville Lecture: Sudbury Writers' Guild Book Fair
The Vagina Monologues



Isän salaisuus

Suomalainen Aarne Kovala kertoi viimeisinä elinvuosinaan tyttärelleen, mitä Stutthofin kuolemanleirillä tapahtui vuonna 1945.

Timo Kiiski, Iltalehti, September 4, 2020

Aarne Kovala (1928–2018) oli vain 16-vuotias teinipoika ja merimies, kun joutui kokemaan natsi-Saksan Stutthofin kuolemanleirin kauhut. Traumoistaan hän avautui tyttärelleen vasta viimeisinä vuosinaan.


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Surviving Stutthof

Thank you to the Ontario Arts Council for their support of my most recent works-in-progress. Their support of Northern writers allows us to continue sharing our words with you. To learn more about OAC grants, visit

© 2019 by Liisa Kovala. Proudly created with