Helena Thorfinn

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Helena Thorfinn
Helena Thorfinn in 2017
Helena Thorfinn in 2017
Born (1964-12-27) 27 December 1964 (age 56)
Lund, Sweden
Notable worksInnan floden tar oss
Den som går på tigerstigar

Helena Thorfinn (born 1964) is a best-selling Swedish fiction writer and journalist, born in Lund in southern Sweden. Her books are noted for their interest in international development, poverty, human rights and "ex-pat experiences".[1]

Before the publication of her first book, Innan Floden Tar Oss (Before the River Takes Us) in 2012,[2] Thorfinn worked in international development. This followed a career as a journalist in national print and broadcast media in Sweden. She has also produced documentaries for national TV. Innan Floden has been translated into Polish, Norwegian, Icelandic and English.


Thorfinn started work as a journalist in her home town Lund before moving to Stockholm to join the national daily Svenska dagbladet as one of its youngest reporters. She was later headhunted to work on the flagship investigative reporting programme, Kalla Fakta, on the newly started television channel, TV4. In 1992, Thorfinn moved to London, UK, reporting for, among others, Swedish Broadcasting. On return to Sweden, she continued to work as a journalist before completing a master's degree in international development at Uppsala University.[citation needed]

In 2000, Thorfinn started to work for the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency as a gender advisor. Between 2005 and 2008, she was based at the Swedish Embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh, as an analyst/first secretary,[3] where she initiated a qualitative results framework called "Reality Checks". It won acclaim among development partners.[4]

The time in Bangladesh inspired her to write her first novel, which is set in the fascinating but peculiar world of international ex-patriates in a country struggling to deal with extreme poverty and the changes caused by rapid industrialization, urbanization and climate change.[5] The book was written and published during her time at Lund University's Creative Writing Programme, LUFS, 2010–2012. It was widely discussed when published and Thorfinn appeared on numerous TV shows and conferences to discuss development aid. She was voted one of Sweden's most influential voices in human rights and development in 2013.[6]

In 2014, Thorfinn moved to Burma/Myanmar where she worked for various development partners, amongst them the Swedish Embassy, UNICEF and Save the Children. At the same time, she completed and published her second novel, Den som går på tigerstigar, which also became a bestseller in Sweden. She also prepared the establishment of an NGO focused on "girl issues" called MeSheWe. MeSheWe is now formally established and working to support the rights of girls in Myanmar and Bangladesh.[7] While living in Myanmar/Burma Thorfinn visited several Asian literature festivals where she participated in panels and seminars.[8]

Since 2018, Thorfinn has lived in Washington DC and is said to be writing a book about Myanmar/Burma, as well as supporting the development of MeSheWe.[9]




  1. ^ "Excellent Swedish novel by Helena Thorfinn on conditions in Bangladesh". nias.ku.dk. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  2. ^ "Ingenting är svart och vitt". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  3. ^ "Bangladesh, Dhaka". Sweden Abroad (in Swedish). Retrieved 1 March 2019.
    - SAXO, null (9 July 2007). "Deras hjärtan är fyllda av Bangladesh". Ystads Allehanda (in Swedish). Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  4. ^ "Reality checks ger människor en röst". sida.se (in Swedish). Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  5. ^ M-magasin. "Helena Thorfinns oväntade boksuccé". m-magasin.se (in Swedish). Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  6. ^ "Sug efter solidaritet". Naturskyddsföreningen (in Swedish). 5 February 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  7. ^ "About". MeSheWe. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  8. ^ "Helter Skelter | Literary Festival Confidential". Helter Skelter. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  9. ^ Thorfinn, Helena (12 April 2018). "Helena Thorfinn: "Did he really do that?"". Kristianstadsbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 1 March 2019.

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