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.
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .