10 September 08 | Chad W. Post

The latest newsletter from the Finnish Literature Exchange (the government sponsored organization dedicated to promoting Finnish lit worldwide) arrived yesterday and included a couple interesting article/links.

First off, there have been a few additions to the Beginners’ Guide to Translation, which, to be honest, I didn’t know existed, but looks like an interesting (and inspiring) document for people interested in getting in to translation.

There’s also an announcement about this year’s winner of the Government Translation Prize:

The Government Translation Prize, worth 10,000 euros, was awarded this year to translator and librarian Gabriele Schrey-Vasara. Gabriele Schrey-Vasara has been a distinguished translator of both novels and scholarly works for almost 30 years. In her role as translator, she has been a part of the flowering of interest in Nordic literature in Germany in the past ten years. Schrey-Vasara has interpreted the character of Maria Kallio, the strong police woman in Leena Lehtolainen’s books, and the renowned Ingrian-Estonian anti-hero Viktor Kärppä in Matti Rönkä’s novels, among others.

Finally, and of most interest to me, is a link to the new issue of Books from Finland, which includes extracts, reviews, and general info on a number of Finnish writers, along with an almost-gooey love letter to Context magazine

We haven’t received a hard copy yet (not sure we’re even on the mailing list, which is probably more our fault than FILI’s), and unfortunately there are very few articles available online. (Which is something that I think is rather short-sighted. If you’re trying to interest people in your country’s literature—a difficult task already—don’t make potential readers/fans do extra work to get the info . . .) If/when we do get a copy, I’ll post again with more details about the authors and works featured inside.


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Walker on Water
Walker on Water by Kristiina Ehin
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .

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The Nightwatches of Bonaventura
The Nightwatches of Bonaventura by Bonaventura
Reviewed by J. T. Mahany

Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .

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Pavane for a Dead Princess
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Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .

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Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila
Reviewed by Caitlin Thomas

Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .

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Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic
Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic by Octave Mirbeau
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic is not a novel in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a collection of vignettes recorded by journalist Georges Vasseur in his diary during a month spent in the Pyrenées Mountains to treat his nervous. . .

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Sphinx
Sphinx by Anne Garréta
Reviewed by Monica Carter

Founded in 1960 by such creative pioneers as George Perec, Raymond Queneau and Italo Calvino, the Oulipo, shorthand for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, came about in when a group of writers and mathematicians sought constraints to find new structures and. . .

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Morse, My Deaf Friend
Morse, My Deaf Friend by Miloš Djurdjević
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

There’s little to say about a series of prose poems that willfully refuse to identify pronoun antecedents. Or perhaps there are a million things. The poems in Morse, My Deaf Friend— the chapbook by Miloš Djurdjević published by Ugly Duckling. . .

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The Crimson Thread of Abandon
The Crimson Thread of Abandon by Terayama Shūji
Reviewed by Robert Anthony Siegel

The Crimson Thread of Abandon is the first collection of short fiction available in English by the prolific Japanese writer and all-around avant-garde trickster Terayama Shūji, who died in 1983 at the age of 47. This collection would be important. . .

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Life Embitters
Life Embitters by Josep Pla
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

Last year, NYRB Classics introduced English-language readers to Catalan writer Josep Pla with Peter Bush’s translation of The Gray Notebook. In that book, Pla wrote about life in Spain during an influenza outbreak soon after World War I, when. . .

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The Physics of Sorrow
The Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov
Reviewed by Izidora Angel

“Your bile is stagnant, you see sorrow in everything, you are drenched in melancholy,” my friend the doctor said.
bq. “Isn’t melancholy something from previous centuries? Isn’t some vaccine against it yet, hasn’t medicine taken care of it yet?” I. . .

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