I’m not sure when FILI—the organization in charge of promoting Finnish literature abroad—redesigned its website, but the results are pretty impressive and definitely worth checking out.
I really like the Spotlight feature, which highlights a few Finnish authors, providing short overviews, excerpts in English, and information about foreign rights. Seems to be a relatively new feature—the archive contains info on only 13 authors and two batches of “picture books”—but hopefully this will be updated on a regular basis.
Some of these materials come from Books from Finland, the quarterly publication consisting of overview articles, essays on particular authors, reviews of new Finnish books, and excerpts. I’m a big fan of these “books from” publications (especially the one from Estonia, and the Vilnius Review), but I am disappointed that most of the contents aren’t available online—instead, interested readers have to subscribe for €28 for four issues. Which is a bit pricey here in the States thanks to the crap economic situation and the exchange rate, but not too terrible, I guess. Although I’d be more willing to pay if that meant I could access the full contents of all the past issues . . .
Finally, there’s a Finnish Literature in Translation database that’s fun to play with. According to this database there were 14 adult works published in English translation in the U.S. since 2000, and only one scheduled for 2008—The Parson’s Widow> by Marja-Liisa Vartio.
The biggest issues with books like The Subsidiary often have to do with their underpinnings—when we learn that Georges Perec wrote La Disparition without once using the letter E, we are impressed. Imagine such a task! It takes a high. . .
Following The Infatuations, Javier Marías’s latest novel seems, like those that have preceded it, an experiment to test fiction’s capacity to mesmerize with sombre-sexy atmospheres and ruminative elongated sentences stretched across windowless walls of paragraphs. Thus Bad Begins offers his. . .
Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .
Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals is about the type of unique, indestructible, and often tragic loyalty only found in families. For a brief but stunningly mesmerizing 169 pages, Twenty-One Cardinals invited me in to the haunting and intimate world of the. . .
We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our. . .
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .
It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .
As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .
It’s a rare and wonderful book that begins and ends with violence and humor. At the start of Etgar Keret’s The Seven Good Years, Keret is in a hospital waiting for the birth of his first child while nurses, in. . .