18 June 10 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Some time in the past I was on the Wisconsin Public Radio show Here On Earth to make some international literature summer reading recommendations. We weren’t able to cover the full list of books I came up with, so I thought I’d post about them one-by-one over the next couple weeks with additional info, why these titles sound appealing to me, etc., etc. Click here for the complete list of posts.

Purge by Sofi Oksanen. Translated from the Finnish by Lola Rogers. (Finland-Estonia, Grove/Black Cat)

In terms of the book itself, I don’t have a lot to add to Larissa’s perceptive review. But to tie this particular post back into the actual WPR “Here On Earth” conversation that sparked this sporadic series of posts, I have to post a picture of Sofi, aka, the “woman with the most amazing hair.” (I feel like I must’ve mentioned this a half-dozen times during that interview . . . it was like my verbal crutch of the moment . . .):

I finally met Sofi at this year’s PEN World Voices Festival, and really enjoyed talking with her. I say “finally” because I was supposed to meet her at the Reykjavik International Literary Festival last fall, but she wasn’t able to make it due to a bout of the swine flu. And continuing with a bit of cursed luck, prior to PEN World Voices, she was supposed to read in California, but, well, the volcano nixed that trip . . . As a friend said, she could write a book on being impacted by the not-so-insignificant global disasters of recent times.

Anyway, Purge is a really interesting book, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else Oksanen ends up writing. She’s really at the top of her game right now, having recently won the Nordic Prize for Purge, and was named Estonia’s “Person of the Year” in 2009.

Although this may not be the most uplifting of the books in our summer roundup, it’s definitely worth checking out.

1 April 10 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Congrats to Sofi Oksanen, author of Purge, for winning the 2010 Nordic Prize. From the press release:

Finnish-Estonian author Sofi Oksanen has won this year’s Nordic Council Literature Prize for her novel Puhdistus (Purge). The prize is worth 47,000 euros.

Oksanen’s third novel, Purge, tells the story of one family through the tragic experiences of its women. Purge was first born as a play staged with great success at the Finnish National Theatre in 2007.

The prize jury said that in her novel Oksanen combined historical subject matter of the occupation of Estonia by the Soviet Union with a modern global problem, human trafficking in the Baltic Sea area.

Oksanen also won the prestigious Finlandia prize in 2008 and the Runeberg Prize for literature last year for the book.

Oksanen will be at this year’s PEN World Voices Festival and I’m hoping to have a chance to interview her for the Reading the World Podcast. (Speaking of which, anyone want to co-host a few PEN World Voices interviews with me?)

30 November 07 | Chad W. Post | Comments

The twelve finalists for the Nordic Literature Prize were announced yesterday.

Among the nominees are Icelandic author Bragi Olafsson for The Ambassador (Open Letter is publishing his book The Pets next fall), and Norwegian author Carl Frode Tiller for Encircling. (Tiller also recently won the Brage prize for the best Norwegian novel of 2007.)

I don’t know anything about the other finalists . . . It would be nice—especially for international publishers—if some magazine or website will provide sample translations or additional information on these books.

The winner will be announced on February 29, 2008.

We're Not Here to Disappear
We're Not Here to Disappear by Olivia Rosenthal
Reviewed by Megan C. Ferguson

Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .

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This Life
This Life by Karel Schoeman
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .

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A Dilemma
A Dilemma by Joris-Karl Hyusmans
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In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .

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