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.
Reading a genre book—whether fantasy, science fiction, crime, thriller, etc.—which begins to seem excessively, stereotypically bad, I have to make sure to ask myself: is this parodying the flaws of the genre? Usually, this questioning takes its time coming. In. . .
The Sicilian Mafia has always been a rich subject for sensational crime fiction. The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos worked the mob’s bloody corpses and family feuds to both entertainment and artistic value. Giuseppe di Piazza’s debut novel attempts this,. . .
Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .
It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .
From the late 1940s to the early 1950s, Egypt was going through a period of transition. The country’s people were growing unhappy with the corruption of power in the government, which had been under British rule for decades. The Egyptians’. . .
Miruna is a novella written in the voice of an adult who remembers the summer he (then, seven) and his sister, Miruna (then, six) spent in the Evil Vale with their grandfather (sometimes referred to as “Grandfather,” other times as. . .
Kamal Jann by the Lebanese born author Dominique Eddé is a tale of familial and political intrigue, a murky stew of byzantine alliances, betrayals, and hostilities. It is a well-told story of revenge and, what’s more, a serious novel that. . .
While looking back at an episode in his life, twenty-year-old Taguchi Hiro remembers what his friend Kumamoto Akira said about poetry.
Its perfection arises precisely from its imperfection . . . . I have an image in my head. I see. . .
The central concern of Sorj Chalandon’s novel Return to Killybegs appears to be explaining how a person of staunch political activism can be lead to betray his cause, his country, his people. Truth be told, the real theme of the. . .
Spoiler alert: acclaimed writer Stefan Zweig and his wife Lotte kill themselves at the end of Lauren Seksik’s 2010 novel, The Last Days.
It’s hard to avoid spoiling this mystery. Zweig’s suicide actually happened, in Brazil in 1942, and since then. . .