The Railroad / Rautatie

By Juhani Aho, 1884.

Published and now available! Buy now.

In 2012, Norvik Press will publish my translation of Finnish author Juhani Aho’s Rautatie (The Railroad). Although not the first author to write fiction in Finnish (that would be Aleksis Kivi), Aho is sometimes spoken of as the father of modern literary Finnish and was the first professional Finnish-language author. The Railroad is considered one of his most important works.

From kirjasto.sci.fi:

“In 1884 appeared Aho’s first major work, Rautatie [Railroad], a humorous story of a country couple Matti and Liisa, who embark on their first railway journey. When Minna Canth read the manuscript, she got so enthusiastic that she compared Aho to Gogol and Zola. In 1921 Rautatie had become the bestselling work of fiction after Kalevala and Vänrikki Stoolin tarinat.”

Pop Song Lyrics — Veikko Huovinen

Author Veikko Huovinen; Photo: Harri Nurminen

Literary genius causes all sorts of problems for translators. Veikko Huovinen was from the worst end of that spectrum. Basically, he manipulates his own language and culture so well that it becomes completely untranslatable. But hey, if someone is willing to pay me to try, then why not? And since it was meant to be seriously wacky in Finnish, maybe the English isn’t so bad after all.

Read Huovinen’s 1960s short story “Pop Song Lyrics” at Books from Finland and an introduction to Huovinen’s work by Jarmo Papinniemi.

The Lunatic // Hullu

The Lunatic (Teos, 2012)

by Juha Hurme

One day during Advent in Helsinki the narrator in the novel Hullu (‘The lunatic’, Teos, 2012), a middle-aged man, goes mad.

Read Soila Lehtonen’s introduction and a sample chapter at Books from Finland.

Angry Birds Books

For the last few months I’ve been collaborating with Rovio Entertainment, the makers of the Angry Birds games, on a series of picture books based on the game characters. More details to come soon on when you can get a little more anger for bedtime with your kids!

Pompom and the Happy Year // Kumpulaakson Pompom ja iloinen vuosi

Pompom and the Happy Year
Otava 2009

By Nina Pirhonen

Coming soon as a smart device app!

The cover pretty much says it all. Or take a look at the author’s website. Pompom is a delightfully whimsical picture book series with a fascinating aesthetic connection to the author/illustrator’s fashion design sensibilities (Google her work for Nanso and Marimekko).

There are four books in the Pompom series. Contact the Otava Group Agency for rights information.

 

Day of the False King // Väärän kuninkaan päivä

Day of the False King
Otava 2012

by Kaarle Aho

Writing a documentary about controversial banker Toivo T. Ryynänen is a second chance for washed-up journalist Jyrki Nyrkki, who is trying to collect what shreds are left of his professional pride and win back the love of his wife.

A journey into the past of old money and the Baby Boom generation ensues, taking Jyrki back to his own childhood and the excesses of the 1980s. Everything seems to repeat over and over: whoever believes the most is the one who gets cheated.

When Ryynänen’s friend and business associate Paul Vihanti returns to Finland with a briefcase full of secrets, it will have an irreversible effect on the Finnish business world and Jyrki’s personal life.

In the end, who is pulling the marionette strings behind the scenes—who knows more than he is telling?

Kaarle Aho (b.1968, Helsinki) is a movie producer. He has a degree in history from Helsinki University. Day of the False King is his first novel.

Sample translation available from the Otava Group Agency.

 

I Hear the Forest Calling // Kuulen kutsun metsänpeittoon

I Hear the Forest Calling

by Sari Peltoniemi

A supernatural YA thriller in which a young boy is haunted for a forest spirit he encounters in Lapland. Do these apparitions have something to do with his long-lost Sami mother?

Sample translation available from the Elina Ahlback Agency.

Jason

Jason

by Camilla Mickwitz

A full translation is available for review from the Ahlback agency, translated by me.

While I didn’t grow up with Finnish children’s books myself, Jason seemed familiar the first time I read it this year. To me it has the feel of a Leo Lionni or Shel Silverstein–the sort of timeless simplicity that in this case completely transcends borders between nations and cultures. Mickwitz has a particular gift for injecting seemingly straightforward stories with glimpses of the serious struggles of adult life as seen through the lens of childhood.

From the Elina Ahlback Literary Agency:

Everyday life can be an adventure!

Children have loved Jason since 1975, when the first Jason book was published. The books recount the joys and troubles of Jason and his mother’s everyday life in an insightful and entertaining way. Karen, Jason’s mother, is always busy. She can’t be late for work and must first take Jason to daycare…

Camilla Mickwitz (1937–1989) won the Finnish Award for Illustrated Books in 1982 for her Emily series. The books are based on series of animated films that received the Finnish State Film Award in 1979.

Tatu and Patu in Helsinki // Tatu ja Patu Helsingissä

2012, Otava

By Aino Havukainen and Sami Toivonen

Now available for purchase in Finland! Akateeminen Suomalainen

Get ready for another rollicking ride with the boys from Oddsville, this time through the 2012 World Design Capital!



See also:

Tatu and Patu’s This is Finland (Published)

Tatu and Patu’s Adventures in Outer Space (Sample)

Tatu and Patu as Superheroes! (Sample)

Tatu and Patu’s Oddball Bedtime Book (Sample)

Tatu and Patu’s Amazing Alphabet (Sample)

The Human Part / Ihmisen osa

Ihmisen osa, Siltala, 2009.
From Finlandia Prize winning author Kari Hotakainen.

Runeberg Prize for fiction, 2010.
Prix Courrier International, 2011.

Now available for purchase in the UK!

Hear the BCC The Strand review.

From the publisher:

An elderly woman agrees to sell her life to a blocked writer she meets at a book fair. She needs to talk – her husband has not spoken since a family tragedy some months ago.

She claims that her grown-up children are doing well, but the writer imagines less salubrious lives for them, as the downturn of Finland’s economic boom begins to bite. Perhaps he’s on to something.

The Human Part is pure laugh-out-loud satire, laying bare the absurdities of modern society in the most vicious and precise manner imaginable.

From the WSOY foreign rights guide:

A fearlessly tragic and deeply humorous novel about how, now more than ever, we buy and sell things with rhetoric. This is Kari Hotakainen at the top of his craft.

A writer buys a life from Salme Malmikunnas, an 80-year-old former yarn seller. You can get a lot for 7000 euros. Salme opens up and tells him everything the way she wants to remember it – the silence of her husband, Paavo, the accident that befell her daughter Helena, Maija’s marriage, and Pekka’s success in business. But will the author tell the story like they’d agreed? Can he resist the urge to write about subjects that are off limits? And is Salme telling the truth?

True to its title, the novel asks what the human part of life is. Its rich cast of characters answers this question in many voices. The novel takes the pulse of the present and builds on the past to portray a world where buying and selling are the order of the day. It sheds light on eternal truths about working life, both then and now. More than anything else, it’s talk that makes business run today. Instead of things like yarn, we now sell images. And when the words run out, it’s time for action.

Hotakainen is a prolific writer, but he has never produced anything quite like this. The Human Part is a rich, wide-ranging novel full of honest wisdom. It’s disarmingly moving and deeply humorous. The novel fearlessly grapples with today’s world and tries to understand it. That’s not possible without laughter. Or tears.

“Hotakainen is a skilled storyteller whose works are full of understated surprises. His humour is intelligent, transporting the reader from laughter to tears. Hotakainen’s books are not meant to be mindlessly devoured – but demand to be read in one sitting.”
Savon Sanomat, 2009

“Aesthetically, The Human Part is one of Hotakainen’s most complete works. Chapter by chapter, he builds his ideas about society like a jigsaw puzzle. Grotesque effects occasionally echo the author’s keen interpretations of the waning of hope and quality of life among modern Finns.”
Satakunnan Kansa, 2009

“Hotakainen delights in language and makes your shoulders shake with laughter.”
Aamulehti, 2009

“Definitely one of the author’s best books.”
Helsingin Sanomat, 2009

Wolves and Angels // Hukan enkelit

I’m currently finishing up a translation of Seppo Jokinen’s award-winning Hukan enkelit (working title Wolves and Angels) for Ice Cold Crime. More details will be coming soon as ICC ramps up marketing, but suffice it to say that this is one of the best old-school detective novels I’ve seen come out of Finland. I cared about the characters from the very beginning, and I wasn’t sure “whodunnit” until the end. In other words, take a bow, Mr. Jokinen!

Hatefully Yours — Jyrki Lehtola

Illustration: Joonas Väänänen

Pop over to Books from Finland for my translation of Jyrki Lehtola’s latest column on the media. Then think for a few minutes about whether Facebook Timeline is an interesting new feature or a hellish reminder that you can never truly escape your digital past..

In the new media it’s easy for our pet-hatreds to be introduced to anyone who is interested. And of course everyone is interested, how else could it be? Jyrki Lehtola investigates…

Read the essay

Alpo Finds Alma // Alpo löytää Alman

Alpo Finds Alma by Jukka Lemmetty

2011, Tapisodes and Tammi

by Jukka Lemmetty

From the developer:

In this second book in the Alpo series, Alpo sets off on a new adventure with his friend Jimmy.

When Alpo hurts his leg, Jimmy puts him in ambulance-pram and drives him to the zoo, where animals can be well looked after. But all the animals at the zoo are too busy to help Alpo. Until Alpo and Jimmy meet a wonderful lady at the ice-cream stall…

The first of the Alpo series to be available on iPhone and iPad. Choose to listen along to charming narration by Sean Connolly, or read by yourself. Tap around the page to see secret animations, bringing Jukka Lemmetty’s illustrations to life!

Available in the Android Marketplace and iTunes Appstore!

Famingo review (4 out of 5 stars): “This super cute children’s book app is the first English translation of a popular Finnish book series. The story is fun, the drawings are cute and there is there is a lot of interactive content if you explore.”

Strange Things Afoot: The Animals’ World II

Strange Things Aftoot — The Animals’ World II
by Marsa Pihlaja

Annexus, Forthcoming

Environmentally-friendly poems & facts for children and adults

Strange things are happening in the animals’ world!

In this second volume of The Animals’ World, curious things occur: frogs rain from the sky, a blackbird is sporting Ray Bans, a hippo runs out of potamus, chickens take to the streets for a freedom march, a dragon mother urges a dragon father to give up smoking, an elephant does a good turn for the environment, and much more!

While the poems are about animals, they offer surprising points of contact with human life. Colorful illustrations and amusing speech bubbles add spice to each hilarious page.

In the DID YOU KNOW? fact sections, an astute mole reports interesting, sometimes surprising things about the animals in the poems and the environment we share.

The first volume of the Animals’ World and its accompanying exhibition were nominated for the 2009 City of Helsinki Environmental Award. A dynamic exhibition based on this second volume is also on tour.

Come along for another wild adventure in the Animals’ World!

Also from Annexus Publishing:

Mother // Äiti

Finlandia Junior Award to Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen

Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen (Image linked from HS.fi)

As reported today in the Helsingin Sanomat, YA author and poet Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen has been awarded this year’s Finlandia Junior prize for children’s and young adult literature for her novel Light, Light, Light [Valoa valoa valoa]. You can read more about the novel at the Stilton Agency website or my post on my English sample translation.

More on the author at Books from Finland and the Finnish Literature Exchange FILI.

Translation of Helsingin Sanomat report:

This year’s Finlandia Junior prize for literature has been awarded to Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen (b. 1977) for her young adult novel Light, Light, Light.

Awarded by the Finnish Book Publisher’s Association for outstanding children’s and young adult literature, this year’s prize was decided upon by musician Paula Vesala. The size of the award is 30,000 euros.

“Huotarinen doesn’t underestimate her reader, instead delivering a broadside,” Vesala said in her award speech.

“The narrative approach, which boarders on poetry, increases the power of the discussion of suicide. The text includes space for one’s own ideas and interpretations, but at the same time, as if to help and protect the young reader, the rapid distancing feels like an absolutely ingenious solution given the topic and probable age of the readership.”

Huotarinen is a lyricist and young adult writer from Tampere. Prior to this winning novel she has published three collections of poetry as well as the Silja trilogy, also for young adults.

She is a previous winner of both the Union of Finnish Writers and Kalevi Jäntti prizes.

The Running of the Bulls // Härkäjuoksu

Author Tuomas Lius

2011 Like

by Tuomas Lius

From the Otava Rights Guide:

A lovable rural rogue and a female detective who’s coming to terms with her past are searching for a
priceless historical treasure

Private investigator Marko Pippurinen from the rural village of Tohmajärvi has revived his detective agency with the help of his young friend, Pyry Lehikoinen. Then Julia Noussair, the other half of the duo familiar from Lius’ previous books, Haka and Outside the Law, appears out of nowhere with an intriguing offer. Marko eagerly seizes this opportunity, but by doing so he sets off a game that forces him
to put more at stake than ever before. Everything culminates in a high-speed treasure hunt through the Nordic wilderness.

An English sample is available.

The Buyout // Erottaja

The Buyout, by Karo Hämäläinen

The Buyout, by Karo Hämäläinen

WSOY, 2011

After reading this book, I felt like immediately changing my investment strategy (perhaps switching to cash in a mattress?), and my ability to stomach the nonsensical explanations of self-serving politicians about why the world is suffering from this financial crisis dropped through the floor. Karo Hämäläinen reminds us what really got us here: the greed and machinations of financial wizards who did their best to hide the risks and consequences of their actions in order to keep making money. The Buyout is that rarest of things in the thriller genre: a dose of reality. Murder mysteries are fundamentally at a remove from almost everyone’s normal lives, but The Buyout is about all of our lives. Anyone who has ever seen the value of their stock portfolio jump like a kid on a trampoline will read this new financial thriller with white knuckles.

 

From the Elina Ahlbäck Agency:

The Buyout

Original title: Erottaja | Published: 2011 | Publisher: WSOY
Class: Fiction | Pages: 462 | Format: 220 x 155 mm | Binding: Hardcover

In the world of big money, there are two emotional states. The markets are dominated either by fear or greed.

Karo Hämäläinen

The international financial crisis is mangling capital markets, fortunes are being crushed in seconds and others are being made just as quickly. A Finnish asset management company founded by three friends descends into the eye of the storm, setting off a fierce competition: who will buy the company for themselves – and with whom?

The Buyout is a financial thriller. Instead of the world politics and violence characteristic of action thrillers, the suspense arises from the intrigues of people working in the capital markets. Karo Hämäläinen has combined the excitement of an action thriller with page-turning narration in a social novel. The result is a hybrid – a novel of unusually depth and narrative control that is also highly readable and entertaining.

As an investment expert, Hämäläinen has his facts straight and reveals a whole range of pitfalls present in the world of high finance over the course of the novel. The repurchase of the Finnish asset management company that functions as the framework for the action of the novel is based on actual events, the downfall of the Icelandic Glitnir Bank. Hämäläinen spent the blackest day of the financial crisis of 2008 in the offices of Glitnir, observing the actions and emotions of the toughest Finnish capital market professionals. He has also interviewed the most important Finnish bankers who were involved in the sale of Glitnir, receiving valuable behind-the-scenes information.

English sample available

 

Reviews:

“The managing editor of Arvopaperi, author Karo Hämäläinen, has written a book that verges on patricide.” – Henrik Muukkonen, Talouselämä (Finland’s leading business weekly)

If you’re interested in the movements of big money and the fates of the people who operate on the dark side of the investment funds, you could hardly spend an evening better. – Hämäläinen’s latest is a chillingly realistic financial thriller. The story reads like reality, which the author can take as a compliment. – The Buyout could be considered one of the landmarks of the continuing economic crisis.” – Matti Posio, Aamulehti (Finland’s second largest daily newspaper)

This hefty work keeps a hold on you until the very end. Instead of high-speed chases and firefights, the suspense of this thriller is created by investment risk, white-collar crime, corporate takeover negotiations, and power games. – What makes this carefully constructed, believable novel extraordinary is the analysis that parallels the plot. – The novel’s account of what happens behind the scenes in the banking and financial sectors will speak to every bank account holder.” – Joni Pyysalo, Suomen Kuvalehti (Finland’s leading current events weekly)

“The atmosphere is like on the savannah, where scavengers lie in wait for their prey and each other – This is the hidden appeal of Hämäläinen’s book. Negative humanity arouses the reader’s interest. The reader wants to know what will happen to these people. This is a book you have to read to the end. If you have to read a thriller to the end, then its author has succeeded in his work. Hämäläinen has.” – Juhana Rossi, Helsingin Sanomat (Finland’s largest daily newspaper)

Are we stupid or what? — Jyrki Lehtola

Illustration: Joonas Väänänen

Are we dumbed down by the Internet? Jyrki Lehtola takes a look at who might be to blame and reminds us that everything really was better in the past.

Read the latest essay from journalist Jyrki Lehtola at Books from Finland.

GAUDEAMUS Helsinki University Press

So you’ve heard about how Finland kicks everyone else’s tuckuses in public education outcomes? Well, it’s not just about running classrooms right. They also have a strong tradition of nonfiction writing and reading, as exemplified by these five books from Gaudeamus Helsinki University Press. Links to reading samples below. Messages from the Islands is particularly recommended as a delightfully quirky and engaging approach to an oddly fascinating subject. Special thanks to Setti and Elli at Translizer for helping with these during Frankfurt crunch time.

The Long History of Electricity by Ismo Lindell

Ismo Lindell’s The Long History of Electricity examines how humanity’s knowledge of electricity and magnetism has evolved over three millennia.

The story of electricity and magnetism is examined as part of broader cultural history: How knowledge of them has increased in stages through a dialectic between theory and experimentation, and how they have been applied in different branches of technology and industry. The book uses interesting examples to explain how electricity replaced earlier modes of lighting, uses of power and methods for transferring information.

The Long History of Electricity offers fascinating, thought-provoking reading for anyone interested in the history of science and technology. Professor emeritus Ismo Lindell received the 2010 Finnish Information Publishing Prize for The Long History of Electricity.

The Long History of Electricity (Sample-PDF)

Man and the Environment by Jari Niemelä et al.

We live in a century faced with great challenges. The growing population of the world needs to be fed and poverty needs to be reduced. The concept of humanity’s relationship to the environment has become broader and more complex. We have begun to understand how sensitive and intricate a system this really is. There are approximately ten million species of organisms on the Earth, and only a small portion of them is known. The spectrum of habitats is astonishing.

This immense variety offers humanity essential raw materials, services and spiritual nourishment. The relationship between man and the environment, however, is threatening to become a question of survival for the human race. As the number of people on Earth who must be fed grows, we also wish to preserve the natural wealth and abundance of the world’s oceans, forests and other environments.

Man and the Environment is a broad survey of the interactions between humanity and the environment. Its subject areas vary from the extinction of species to climate change and from consumer culture to forest conservation. It also describes the different opportunities we have for making a difference: the decisions we make at home, at work and at the ballot box are essential. A structured overall picture of a complex world improves the quality of decision making and democracy. It also makes near future threats easier to comprehend.

Man and the Environment offers fresh perspectives from top experts on environmental topics and the responsibilities communities must shoulder.  The information presented enhances readers’ understanding about the causes of, impacts from and solutions to environmental problems, as well as offering answers to today’s burning environmental questions.

Man and the Environment (Sample–PDF)

The Future of the Baltic Sea by Saara Bäck et al.

Why is the Baltic Sea deteriorating? What is the value of the Baltic Sea? Why are international protection efforts for the Baltic Sea stumbling? What are the solutions for saving the Baltic Sea? These are the key questions of The Future of the Baltic Sea. Environmental protection is a challenging task: the problems surrounding the Baltic Sea are well known and its poor state is generally acknowledged, but there is still a lack of multidisciplinary scientific dialogue about means for protecting it. The Future of the Baltic Sea delves into these issues, presenting the views, opinions and values of researchers from various branches of science related to the Baltic Sea and what can be done to improve its state. It adds new perspectives and arguments to the discussion about how to improve the future outlook for the entire Baltic Sea area.

“The Baltic Sea is like a living creature with many legs that extends from the Scandinavian Mountains to the fells of Lapland, from Lentiira Village in North-Eastern Finland to the Czech Republic, from Belarus to Lake Onega. It has cleaned itself through evaporation or by leading its waters to the Atlantic Ocean to evaporate, from where they return to us as rain, clean from impurities that we have dumped into our water systems. Now its strength is clearly starting to falter.” – Antti Tuuri, bestselling author

The Future of the Baltic Sea (Sample–PDF)

Cuisine of the Islamic World by Helena Hallenberg & Irmeli Perho

Cuisine of the Islamic World provides a captivating look into one of humanity’s richest food cultures. The book describes how a cuisine that was initially quite simple developed into a sophisticated epicurism and how different foods and stimulants were used around Bedouin camp fires and at the tables of medieval rulers and are still used in modern meals, not to mention celebrations.

Cuisine of the Islamic World also explores the rainbow of food culture among Muslims in Finland, such as Tatars, Kurds and Somalis. Individual raw ingredients and whole dishes have spread across the globe through the Islamic nations: the best known stimulant, coffee, was first consumed by Sufi mystics. Included is a collection of recipes from nations as far-flung as Morocco and China that will entice the taste buds.

This book will be enjoyed by everyone who wants to understand the many different meanings and intercultural connections of Islamic cuisine–from lovers of gourmet delights to food industry professionals.

Cuisine of the Islamic World was awarded the Finnish Science Book of the Year award in 2010.   Quoting from the judging panel’s decision: “The book is an outstanding introduction to modern global history and develops both respect and curiosity in the reader towards Islamic culture and world views. And to top everything off, the end of the book includes a sizable collection of Islamic recipes, which will tempt readers to move from words to actions – i.e. to both cooking and cultural tourism.

Cuisine of the Islamic World (Sample–PDF)

Messages from the Islands by Ilkka Hanski

Messages from the Islands is a riveting account of the diversity of nature and how new species are born and why old ones disappear. Internationally renowned ecologist Ilkka Hanski ponders environmental changes from an illustrative, general knowledge perspective so the book is also suitable for readers who are not familiar with ecology. The book takes the reader to six islands, from the tiny Haminanluoto Island in the eastern Gulf of Finland to Greenland, the world’s largest island. The text is embellished by reminiscences of the young researcher’s thoughts and excitement. Why have large species been successful in nature in Finland? How did the Granville Fritillary butterfly from Åland become the model species for population ecology research? Why did researchers become interested in dung beetles from the rain forests of Borneo and Madagascar? What do fluctuations in lemming populations say about the stability of Greenland’s biological communities?

Messages from the Islands uses these examples to shed light on even bigger questions: Why do species change. What is the significance of habitat change, global warming and new species? The book helps the reader to understand why nature’s diversity is worth protecting.

Professor Ilkka Hanski leads a top unit in meta-population biology at the University of Helsinki. He is one of the most scientifically accomplished ecologists in the world and is one of Finland’s best known researchers. He previously authored a book entitled The Shrinking World: the Ecological Consequences of Habitat Loss (Excellence in Ecology 14, International Ecology Institute 2005). The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded Hanski the 2011 Crafoord Prize, also known as the “mini Nobel.”

Messages from the Islands (Sample–PDF)

The Heretic Essays // Kerettiläisesseet

Kari-Hukkila

The Heretic Essays, by Kari Hukkila

The Heretic Essays, by Kari Hukkila

Savukeidas, 2010

“An Algerian Friend” now published in Hyperion Volume VII, Issue 1, Jan. 2013.

From the Burning Bridge Agency 2011 rights guide:

The starting point of Kari Hukkila’s The Heretic Essays is the turn of the eighties when Hukkila gets to know a group of Algerian youngsters hanging around in front of Notre Dame. The essays deal with a friendship which does not depend on similarity, and a Europe which defines the positions and attitudes between the West and Islam as a confrontation. Through modern Yemen and Algeria, Hukkila journeys to the Spain of the Middle Ages. He returns to modern Paris and his friend Hafed and reflects on Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor, Carl Schmitt, Romany beggars, the Picaresque novel, Spinoza’s converso background and ends up on Omaha Beach. Together, the subjects form a rich and splendid whole which shows that heretics have always been needed. By its wide-ranging scholarship and open thinking The Heretic Essays bring new aspects of thought to the debate around xenophobia, foreignness and the confrontation between cultures. Hukkila’s writing style is gently ironic and thoughtful, tender when speaking of friends but uncompromising and direct when faced with stupidity and cruelty.

“Kari Hukkila’s first literary work, the collection called The Heretic Essays is an extremely interesting and singularly irritating book. I have argued many days against Hukkila, on Hukkila’s behalf and with a vague understanding for Hukkila. The Heretic Essays consists of some ten essays. Their theme is one and the same and it couldn’t be of more current importance: immigration, what happens to people on the journey from one culture to another. Unlike most other participants in the current debate Hukkila also knows something of the subject. (…) The Heretic Essays brings quality, depth and nuances to the immigration debate.”

-Matti Mäkelä, Helsingin Sanomat

 

On a Journey: The Martti Ahtisaari Story

The Ahtisaari Story by Katri Merikallio and Tapani Ruokanen

Otava, 2011

From Otava Foreign Rights:

The first authorised biography of the influential Finnish Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

How did a little boy who was evacuated during the war grow up to become the president of Finland, one of the most widely known Finnish decision-makers on the international stage and a leading global figure in crisis resolution? How has Martti Ahtisaari managed to get people to achieve peace, and what lies at the core of his approach? And where does this man, who turns 74 this year, plan to go from here?

This book includes Ahtisaari’s own thoughts on the various stages of his life, and the Nobel Peace Prize recipient’s own voice emerges clearly throughout the book. In the course of writing this book, the authors conducted interviews with Martti Ahtisaari himself. They also spoke to many key figures who have worked very closely with him, along with family members and friends from Finland and abroad. The result is a vivid, exciting and complex portrait of one of the great figures of our era.

Katri Merikallio is a journalist with Suomen Kuvalehti, a weekly news magazine. She is also the author of How to make peace: Ahtisaari and Aceh. Tapani Ruokanen is the author of numerous books and served as the editor-in-chief of Suomen Kuvalehti for many years.

An English sample is available

Light, Light, Light // Valoa valoa valoa

Light, light, light by Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen

Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen

2011, Karisto

As a translator, I generally think of “lyrical” as a dirty word. Even beyond the pretense that’s usually bound up in using language like that about a book (your own book?), translating poetry is generally a fool’s errand, unless you fully embrace what the *huge* limitations are. Every once in a while, though, a translation of something lyrical just works. This is a good story, and a beautiful thing to read. It feels true to life.

From the Stilton Agency:

What else can one write about other than death or love? The narrator in the book is a 14-year old Mariia Ovaskainen, who hates writing. Nevertheless, she must tell us a story from 1986, when two things exploded: Chernobyl nuclear power station and Mariia’s own consciousness.

Mariia’s new class mate, Mimi, moves into a white house on top of the hill. Mimi is an odd girl, whose mother has committed suicide, and who is not interested in school. The story starts when Mimi meets Mariia on the beach and asks: “Could you pretend to be my friend, please?” Mariia promises to help her new mate to prepare for a retake of a Swedish exam to improve her grades. During the summer, the girls’ friendship deepens and turns into a love affair. But however deep the love, it cannot save Mimi, whose soul is weighted down by unbearable sadness. It is like a black hole into which all light disappears.

Light, Light, Light is a rosy love story about the budding sexuality of the main character, and about some difficult choices that she has to make at the age of 14. The painful themes of Mariia’s story jump at the reader both directly and between the lines and push the boundaries of storytelling.

An English sample is available

Here’s a little taste:

DEAR READERS!

The famous Russian author Anton Chekhov recommended tearing up the first page of any story. He thought that the beginnings of stories were naturalism at its most ghastly.

Well now.

Go ahead and rip it up. This is your book!

Or the library’s. However, the librarians will be understanding in this case.

If you feel like Mimi’s description was naturalism at is most ghastly, then go ahead and just start reading here.

Because now is when the action starts.

Mimi said:

One more step and I shoot.

I answered:

Go ahead and shoot.

I had lived in this village a whole hell of a lot longer than Mimi. She couldn’t order me around on my own home turf. She had just moved into the white house on the top of the hill and you can bet she was afraid every night. People who haven’t grown up in the country are always afraid.

I had come to the beach to loan her my Swedish book because Mimi had flunked and was headed to summer school.

Oh God, imagine getting held back first thing at a new school!

Mimi looked at me like people look at each other in old Clint Eastwood movies.

Shooting me full of holes with her eyes.

She loaded me up with her burning sorrow. And I didn’t budge. I didn’t walk away or stagger. When a person recognizes her future love, everything around her gets sucked into it.

And then they don’t have anything else. Besides the other person.

I stood there and accepted her rapid-fire light light light.

Until Mimi said:

Would you do me a favor? Could you act like my friend?

DEAR READERS!

Acting is the KEY to this story.

Shove it in your pocket.

Abandon hope all ye who enter here! Unless you know the password.

KEYS open doors. Click! Soon you will discover secrets. Strings of accidents. Garret labyrinths.

Or at least you will think you have discovered them.

For example, in the white house on the top of the hill is a mother who puts on makeup and then puts on makeup again, even though she is dead. This mother creates dramas with eyeliner and eye shadow. Mimi hands her mother objects and her mother’s hands accept the objects. Face powder dusts the walls.

The mother herself is also a KEY.

But now I’m jumping ahead.

Tatu and Patu’s Adventures in Outer Space // Tatun ja Patun Avaruusseikkailu

Tatu and Patu's Adventures in Outer Space

Otava 2011

by Aino Havukainen & Sami Toivonen

From the 2011 Otava Foreign Rights Guide:

A universally weird intergalactic adventure that thrusts forward at hyperspeed and plunges readers into orbits of laughter!

The wildly fast-paced and utterly wacky series of adventures continues – this time, the brothers from Oddsville have a go at sci-fi. Tatu and Patu take off on an adventure across the universe – their mission is to defend galactic peace and perform other important feats of derring-do.

Tatu and Patu build their own spaceship for the trip. It’s not long before the interstellar adventure shuttle I.T.S.  Bananas shoots up into the sky. Space cadet A.T.L. Antic and star pilot Styrox Box, also known as Mr. Cool, head towards the furthest reaches of the universe. As the boys are checking whether there is air in the rings of Saturn, something bright, fast, and incredibly huge crashes into them. The wings of their spaceship catch on fire and they just barely escape to the safety of the Star Union mother ship.

There, they encounter not only their greatly admired Ro-He, commander of the Star Union, but also an enormous problem: a state of emergency has been announced throughout the entire universe, because an immense, unknown destructive force is moving through the solar systems. Planets have disappeared, and all the orbits are completely out of whack.

With the help of Antic and Box and the little girl Ring-Da, the Star Union resolves its urgent problem, but they need a healthy dose of Tatu and Patu’s ingenuity and courage as well as little Ring-Da’s insights and a gigantic finger before peace is restored to the universe.

Tatu and Patu’s Adventures in Outer Space is the second book in the series Tatu and Patu’s Adventures. Tatu and Patu: Superheroes! kicked off the series to a fantastic reception, sparking comments such as: “Once more, Aino Havukainen and Sami Toivonen demonstrate a fine understanding of what works on little boys and girls – and older ones, too.” – kaks’plus

A sample translation in English is available.

See also:

Tatu and Patu’s This is Finland

Tatu and Patu in Helsinki

Tatu and Patu as Superheroes!

Tatu and Patu’s Oddball Bedtime Book

Tatu and Patu’s Amazing Alphabet

Nonfiction 2011

I recently completed a series of non-fiction samples as part of an initiative by the Finnish Literature Exchange FILI. See the FILI brochure about the project here.

From the brochure:

In Finland, over 3,000 non-fiction book titles are released by publishers each year, of which around 2,000 come under the category of general non-fiction. The total number of works published in Finland in 2009 that were designated as non-fiction books – a category which includes items as diverse as annual company reports and scientific publications – was around 8,000. The spectrum of non-fiction books is so broad because the category includes everything that is not classed as fiction. This is a very substantial quantity for a country with such a small number of people who speak its national languages. … The emphasis in non-fiction publishing is on domestic topics, but of course there are books written in Finland whose style and subject matter make them eminently suitable for translation into other languages. The brochure you are currently reading contains a selection of eight high-quality, very well-written general-interest non-fiction books that have been published in Finland in the last couple of years.

Here are short descriptions of the work I did for the project:

Vertiginous Heels: The Dangerous Allure of Luxury Shoes by Mirja Tervo

Vertiginous Heels: The Dangerous Allure of Luxury Shoes by Mirja Tervo

Atena Publishing

An anthropological investigation of the New York world of luxury high heels through the eyes of a Finnish scholar and shoe seller. Funny, touching, shocking. Why would anyone do that to her (or his) feet?


Who Owns Russia? The Dynamics of Ownership and Power in Russia by Arto Luukkanen

Who Owns Russia? The Dynamics of Ownership and Power in Russia by Arto Luukkanen

WSOY Publishing

The name says it all. Scholar Arto Luukkanen studies the central role of private property rights and corporate ownership in the control currently exercised by the securocratic regime of Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev in Russia, including the historical development of ownership rights.


Don't You Know Who I Am? The History of Arrogance by Ari Turunen

Don’t You Know Who I Am? The History of Arrogance by Ari Turunen

Atena Publishing

How do jerks end up with all the power and why can’t they ever seem to hold on to it? Simple: arrogance. If it isn’t killing your father and marrying your mother, it’s invading Russia late in the year.


Faberge's Finnish Masters by Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm

Faberge’s Finnish Masters by Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm

Tammi Publishing

Long-time expert on the Faberge phenomenon, author Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm reveals the role played by skilled Finnish artisans in the creation of the Faberge legend. “But my dear lady, without these jewels you will by like a cow without her bell!” Now there’s some true Savo wit for you.


Wolf Mass: The Civil War of the 1590's in Finland and Sweden by Mirkka Lappalainen

Wolf Mass: The Civil War of the 1590’s in Finland and Sweden by Mirkka Lappalainen

Siltala Publishing

Yeah, Finns have never been very good at being ruled or invaded by other nations. They tend to get a bit rowdy.

 

The Cinematic Life: A Novel by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen

Harjukaupungin salakäytävät by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen

The Cinematic Life: A Novel
[Harjukaupungin salakäytävät]
by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen

Ateena, 2010

Speculative fiction author Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen takes a plunge into magical realism, with cinematic results. More on this book (soon) as the project progresses. Pasi is being represented by the Kontext Agency.

An English sample and synopsis are available.

 

Reviews:

Jääskeläinen (…) offers international quality”

Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen, a schoolteacher in Jyväskylä, has a third surprise in store for the Finnish reading public. His first novel, Lumikko and Nine Others (2006), and his short-story collection, The Zoo that Fell from the Sky (2008) caused critics to compare him to JK Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter.

The recently released Harjukaupungin salakäytävät (literally “The Secret Passages of the Hill City”) accelerates the pace. In it, urban development, Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, the cinematization of one’s own life, dreams, childhood memories, and a touch of mysticism all intermingle.

Publisher Olli Suominen is living a steady life with his family until he connects with his childhood sweetheart Kerttu Kara through Facebook. She has become a best-selling author, and Olli manages to land her next book for his own publishing house. But when Kerttu comes to Jyväskylä to refresh her childhood memories for the book she’s writing, will Olli be able to focus on his own family life anymore?

Jääskeläinen creates an engaging package, the puzzles within which the reader desperately wants to solve. As in his debut novel, Jääskeläinen again plays with different options, offering his reader an original world where everyday reality sometimes takes on a dreamlike quality — until you thump back solidly on the ground. Harjukaupungin salakäytävät is a smooth-reading, layered novel that entices the reader along.

In the new Finnish literature, Jääskeläinen stands out refreshingly, to his credit. As a writer he has a touch that seems light but contains depth and offers international quality.

Salla Brunou

Etelä-saimaa (28.12.2010)

Finncon Report

General Thoughts:

A few quick thoughts post-Finncon. First of all, speculative fiction is alive and well in Finland. Every panel I attended had good turn-out, and there was a lot of energy, despite some pretty stupid things being said by a few presenters. Prediction: if you tell people they won’t succeed and won’t make any money doing what they love, they won’t. Mika Waltari, Johanna Sinisalo, and Sofi Oksanen didn’t succeed and make money until they did, writing things that blew away not only the domestic audience, but also international readers. The comments from the keynote speakers, particularly Richard Morgan, were excellent, doing the opposite of what I described above: he not only gave concrete tips on successful writing, he was also generally encouraging of new authors.

All your con program are belong to us.

Panel on Finnish Science Fiction, Fantasy and Comic Books:

While at Finncon I participated in a panel on literary exports with Irma Hirsjärvi, Toni Jerrman and Cheryl Morgan, moderated by Maria Säntti. My main message was that speculative fiction is not marginal literature in the English-speaking world, especially the United States, and that there is room for foreign authors who play the game.

What is the game? To get published, you write a great book that will have international appeal, prepare a query letter, synopsis, and sample translation in English, and send them to lots and lots of people you have access to through the contacts (or an agent) are constantly making because you’ve overcome your shyness for the sake of selling your book.

And for goodness sakes, use qualified native translators and editors. It matters.

Shameless self-promotion is encouraged! (It’s called advertising)

Some reaction to the panel (in Finnish).

Speculative Fiction Translation Seminar

Prior to Finncon, Burning Bridge Literary Agency hosted a translation seminar focused on speculative fiction and comics taught by yours truly and attended by Claire Saint-Germain (France), Kristian London (US), Alexandra Stang (Germany), Mattias Huss (Sweden), and Ave Leek (Estonia), all up-and-coming literary translators. The seminar was a great success–special thanks to the organizers, Maria Säntti, Terhi Hannula, and Annukka Vähäsöyrinki, as well as our special guests, cartoonist Joonas Lehtimäki and sci-fi author M.G. Soikkeli. Also Petteri Oja of Zum Teufel Press and the Turku Sarjakuvakauppa (“comic shop”) for letting us invade his shop on short notice.

Big in Finland--Julia hamming it up with the one translation I wish I would have asked for royalties on.

Finncon

See you at Finncon!

This year I’ll be running a seminar for translators interested in speculative fiction and comic translation in conjunction with Finncon, organized and funded by the Turku Burning Bridge Literary Agency project and FILI.

On Saturday as part of the Finncon program, there will be a special panel discussion on Finnish speculative fiction abroad featuring myself, Irma Hirsjärvi, Maria Säntti, Toni Jerrman, and Cheryl Morgan. The time of the panel is a little uncertain. Check announcements at the con.

If you’re attending Finncon this year, drop me a line so we can meet up!


The Politics of Difference — Jyrki Lehtola

Chairman of the True Finns party Timo Soini at...

Homo sapiens populismus: Timo Soini of the True Finns Party. Image via Wikipedia

Illustration: Joonas Väänänen

My latest Jyrki Lehtola essay translation at Books from Finland:

Big electoral turnouts are generally considered a good thing. But, writes columnist Jyrki Lehtola, in Finland the fact that the vote went up in the last Finnish general election caused a revelation. Educated urbanites and the media (perhaps near enough the same thing), are shocked by how 20 per cent of their fellow Finns think – and the ramifications caused tremors all across Europe.

Read the essay.

 

Essays on Desire and Doubt / Halun ja epäluulon esseet

Essays on Desire and Doubt Cover

Essays on Desire and Doubt by Antti Nylén

Author Antti Nylén

Antti Nylén

From the Burning Bridge Literary Agency:

Antti Nylén (s.1973) is an essayist and translator specializing in 19th century French literature.  He has translated Baudelaire, Flaubert and J.K. Huysmans, among others. Nylén is a feminist, a devout Catholic, a vegan, a dandy, a father of two, and an exceptionally violent writer. He lives in Helsinki.

His first book, Vihan ja katkeruuden esseet (Essays on Anger and Bitterness, Savukeidas 2007) won the Kalevi Jäntti Prize for Literature in 2007 and was nominated for the Helsingin Sanomat Best Debut Book Award. In this polemical essay collection, Nylén writes about neckties, sex, crazy bitches, meat, pop, and God.

Antti Nylén’s second essay collection, Halun ja epäluulon esseet (Essays on Desire and Doubt, Savukeidas 2010) examines Nico, Morrissey, the possibility of being saved, buttocks, Robert Bresson, strange sensuality, religion and irreligiosity. The book received rave reviews and was nominated for the Runeberg Prize for Literature for 2010.

“Desire is pleasure in and of itself; need is a state of deprivation and distress.”

“Doubt is not-belief. Nonetheless, it is not a knowing. Doubt is a synonym for faith.”

Read the essay “On the Possiblity of Salvation” at Burning Bridge


About Essays on Desire and Doubt:

Antti Nylén’s second essay collection, Essays on Desire and Doubt, examines Nico, Morrissey, the possibility of being saved, buttocks, Robert Bresson, strange sensuality, religion and irreligiosity. These freely-meandering essays are often obstinate and always emotional.

“I hope that everyone who reads the book will become a vegetarian. And if ever before they’ve been hostile to Christianity, that they will think two friendly thoughts about it, about Jesus and the church,” Nylén has said in an interview (Uusimaa 17.1.2011).

Essays on Desire and Doubt received rave reviews and was nominated for the Runeberg Prize for Literature for 2010.

“Desire is pleasure in and of itself; need is a state of deprivation and distress.”

“Suspicion is not-belief. Nonetheless, it is not a knowing. Suspicion is a synonym for faith.”

Original title: Halun ja epäluulon esseet
Publisher: Savukeidas 2010, 393 pages
Cover design: Antti Eerikäinen

Even though this will not please everyone, after Antti Nylén’s second collection, Essays on Desire and Doubt, we are forced to admit that the young essayists at Savukeidas are writing the most interesting, intellectually challenging, sociophilosophically insightful literature being produced in Finland today
– Matti Mäkelä, Helsingin Sanomat newspaper

Even though Nylén shuns the irony characteristic of contemporary prose, his sentences exude laconic flair and black humor.
– Jussi Kaskinen, Etelä-Saimaa newspaper

The best thing in Nylén’s essays is that you can appreciate them even if you don’t agree with him. Books that make you want to fling them against the wall don’t come along very often.
– Marja Honkonen, Jyväskylän Ylioppilaslehti college newspaper

In recent decades the Finnish literature have been keeping their distance from Christianity. — – As a result, Essays on Desire and Doubt, by the versatile man of letters Antti Nylén, feels like the inauguration of a new epoch.
– Esko Miettinen, Sana Christian magazine

The power [of the essays] is in the ideas, in Nylén’s way of thinking differently than what we are used to. Essays offer something invigorating, comforting. They are invigorating. It isn’t true that there is nothing new under the sun. There is here.
– Lauri Linna, Scriptor

The Sands of Sarasvati / Sarasvatin hiekkaa

The Sands of Sarasvati by Risto Isomäki, 2005

Risto Isomäki

I grabbed The Sands of Sarasvati off the shelf as soon as I saw it in 2005, immediately devoured it, and then went looking for more from the author. It was a great pleasure to do the finishing work on the graphic novel version, and I’m thrilled now to be working on the full novel. Look for more info and a sample in fall 2011!

From the Stilton Agency:

The Sands of Sarasvati is an eco-thriller about man-made environmental catastrophe. This visionary work of literature reflects on the significance of giant tsunamis in the history of mankind. The novel had already been sent to the publisher before the tsunami hit the coastal regions of Asia in 2004.

The events take place in the near future. They encompass Finland, the continental ice sheet of Greenland, and the Indian Ocean. The Russian researcher Sergey is trying to investigate the mystery of a sunken city in the Gulf of Cambay. He works together with his colleague Amrita, and with an Indian research body. At the same time, Finnish researcher Kari Ahola tries to solve the problem of melting ice sheets. He cooperates with a research unit in Greenland, run by the Filipino recluse Susan Chang, which also studies the ice sheets. These two lines of research line up surprisingly well, resulting in the discovery that the ice sheets are in imminent danger of melting. This would result in a catastrophic tsunami and flood. The researchers also begin to find answers to questions posed thousands of years ago.

In the book’s climax, although scientists have been able to predict the birth of the tsunami, there is no time to prevent it.

In addition to the plot, the selling point of this novel is the expertise of the author at making complex science accessible. Isomäki creates suspense through the research paths of the novel’s heroes. The reader is given an extensive view of world history, its natural phenomenon, the birth and development of civilisations, the structure of space, and the mystery of Atlantis. Isomäki is at his most impressive when describing the polar ice sheets: the unpredictability of snow, ice, air and water; their movement and shapes. He captivates the reader with his unique insight into the complexities of water.

The book was nominated for the Finlandia prize for literature. It was already awarded the Thank You for the Book medal, and the Star Wanderer (Tähtivaeltaja) prize for science fiction.

Reviews:

The Sands of Sarasvati is an eco-thriller of apocalyptic proportions, which culminates in a giant flood. The book is both topical, and frighteningly believable. It is a lesson in how our melting of the polar ice sheets may trigger a tsunami that threatens the entire globe. Isomäki’s thought provoking and captivating thriller is flooded with cultural and historical knowledge, and with old wisdom from the East.” Finlandia Prize judges panel

The Sands of Sarasvati is a cleverly written thriller which goes many levels deeper than just the prospect of an environmental catastrophe.” –Kansan Uutiset

The Sands of Sarasvati is a frightening thriller because its set-up is so very real. This book must be commended for the way that it handles a difficult subject, and explains the complex causative chain to the reader. At long last, we get to read a literary work that has a lot to say. The Sands of Sarasvati is a significant contribution to the ongoing dialogue about climate change.“ –Parnasso

“Thanks to its subject and the way it is written, The Sands of Sarasvati is one of the key books of this autumn. As a narrator of the movement of snow and ice, Isomäki is as captivating as Peter Hoeg was in his novel Smilla’s Sense of Snow.” –Aamulehti

Publishers:
Finland, Tammi (Bonnier)
Denmark, Turbine Forlaget
Germany, Lübbe
Spain, Booket (Planeta)
Poland, Kojro
Estonia, Kunst Publishers
Lithuania, Tyto Alba
Latvia, Dienas Gramata
Turkey, Bizim Kitaplar
Hungary, Nyitott Könyv

 

You Can’t Tell About It / Siitä ei voi kertoa

Atena, 2003 by Tiina Pihlajamäki

It doesn’t matter where the war happened, who the opposing forces were, or what justifications were given. After the dust settles, after the dead are removed, the work of survival continues for the living. The world seeks justice, but at the cost of retraumatizing the innocent.

Tiina Pihlajamäki’s You Can’t Tell About It explores the aftermath of a fictional eastern European conflict reminiscent of the Bosnian War in the mind of a young girl, Mirjana, who remained relatively unscathed by the atrocities experienced by so many others. Or did she? How can even the victim know when memories are the new enemy and what you can remember you can’t recount.

Although fictional, You Can’t Tell About It tackles the difficult and generally overlooked subject of the effects of conflict on children in the same spirit as The Diary of Anne Frank and Zlata’s Diary.

You Can’t Tell About It isn’t light reading, but in its weightiness it offers a lot to think about. It speaks to and touches the reader. After reading it, your own small, every-day problems take on a new scale.”

-Amira Al Bayaty,15.10.2003 Kiiltomato

Full English translation available soon. English language rights available.

 

Comics from Turku

What happens to you in hell if your last name really is Bastard? Can’t a fox girl living in the human world catch a break? Do you really have to slow down in your eighties? These and many more important, hilarious, and twisted life questions we’ve all been wondering about are tackled by the comic artists of Turku, Finland.

I recently translated and/or edited several comics samples for the Burning Bridge Literary Agency in Turku. There is some seriously funny stuff here.

View the whole brochure (PDF 4.5 mb)

Mika Lietzén: Yesterday, Tomorrow (Eilen, huomenna), a graphic novel
Ave Koskela: Mr. Bastard’s Flower Book (Armaksen kukkakirja), a comic strip album
Anni Nykänen: Granny (Mummo), a comic strip
Tuuli Hypén: Nelly (Nanna), a comic strip
Jupu: Barbutterfly (Baarien nainen), a comic strip
Joonas Lehtimäki: Anonymous Animals (Anonyymit eläimet)

 

 

The Call of the Sagas / Saagojen kutsu

Pirius, 2010 (3rd Ed) by Pekka Piri

In 1994, Pekka Piri and Matti Pulli set out from Helsinki as skipper and navigator (respectively) of the FinnFaster, an open-top motor boat, on a daring attempt to reach Iceland. The Call of the Sagas chronicles not only their voyage across the cold northern seas, but also through the shoals and rocks of life. Their skills are tested. Their equipment is punished. Their endurance is pushed to the limit. In the end they do reach Iceland, but more importantly, they arrive as new men.

More information to come…

The Call of the Sagas at the YLE Living Archive (Finnish)

www.callofthesagas.com


Pekka Piri

 

The Blue Phantom / Sininen aave

Tammi, 2011

by Tapani Bagge

From the Elina Ahlbäck Agency:

The year is 1940. Detective Sergeant Mujunen, familiar to readers of White Heat, is swept up in a new, more poignant chain of events. Mujunen, in mourning for the death of his wife, meets the Lithuanian dancer Ilse Anders at the cemetery, and his heart skips a beat. But his troubles are far from over.

A Finnish commuter plane vanishes after taking off from Tallinn, a bank is robbed in Kerava, and riots flare in Helsinki, the protesters demanding peace and brotherhood between Finland and the Soviet Union. Also involved is a big time gangster, Finnish-American Bill Kovanen, arrived too late to take part in the Winter War. Crime journalist Ossi Koho and photographer Sanna Rytkönen suspect a conspiracy: what if everything is connected with the accident where actress Sirkka Sari fell into the chimney of the Aulanko Hotel? The last act is played out on the windy shore of the Ice Sea, where Mujunen’s faith in mankind is put to the test.

My own thoughts: My favorite part is the milieu, the feel of 1940’s Finland. There are strong shades of our own US noir gumshoes, with just a hint of levity mixed into the narrative to avoid being overly earnest. The pace of the action is blistering. This is a book any mystery reader would love.

Tapani Bagge — The Blue Phantom — PDF Sample

 

The Sports Book / Urheilukirja

WSOY, 2011

by Tuomas Kyrö

From Books from Finland:

We Are the Champions

Heroes are still in demand, in sports at least. In his new book, author Tuomas Kyrö examines the glorious past and the slightly less glorious present of Finnish sports – as well as the meaning of sports in the contemporary world where it is ‘indispensable for the preservation of nation states’. And he poses a knotty question: what is the difference, in the end, between sports and arts? Are they merely two forms of entertainment?

Read a sample (HTML)

Also by Tuomas Kyrö: Taking Offense (Mielensä pahoittaja)

Over Dark Waters / Tumman veden päällä

Tammi, 2010

by Peter Franzén

From the Elina Ahlbäck Literary Agency:

A touching and finely tuned growing up story set in northern Finland.

For children, every day brings something new and amazing. It could be a game with your little sister and the kids from next door, it could be a Grandpa who makes you laugh, or it could be the snow crunching under the runners of your pushsled during a race. Or, like for Pete, it could be the first year of school, which is coming up soon. And then there’s Dad, who starts to change. Pete begins hearing voices from the kitchen, arguing and crying. Storming out into the night. The child trusts his parents unconditionally, admires them, is full of hope and faith in the future. What happens when this image falls to pieces?

On Dark Waters is a disarmingly sensitive and frequently delightful story of growth. Relying on small observations, objects, scents, and moods, Franzén carries the story along towards the great drama, the moment when the idyll of childhood is shattered.

Shortlisted for the Helsingin Sanomat Debut Book of the Year Award 2010

Peter Franzén (b. 1971) is one of Finland’s most popular actors, having performed in many hit films and on stage, including in New York where he was starring in Sofi Oksanen’s Purge. Currently living and working in both Finland and the US, Franzén spent his childhood in northern Finland.

Praise:

“Actor Peter Franzén makes a respectable entrée into the role of author. The story holds meaning for others; most of all because the debut writer consistently and skillfully makes use of the child’s perspective, never resorting to hindsight.” – Helsingin Sanomat

“The images are lucid and precise. A little boy’s journey through terror and joy, fear and security, love and hate is breathtakingly touching. – – The moments when a child’s world slows down are virtually heart-rending. And that is exactly why reading this book is so good!” – Savon Sanomat

Peter Franzén — Over Dark Waters — PDF Sample (Translation with Arttu Ahava)

The Liquor Card / Viinakortti

Tammi, 2010

by Sami Hilvo

From the Elina Ahlbäck Literary Agency:

A bold, beautiful story of World War II Finland and a love that does not find acceptance in the world around it.

Mikael arrives at his grandmother’s funeral and finds that nothing has changed. His deceased grandparents’ home still feels like home, and his relatives treat him just as coldly as before. When Mikael gets the key to his grandfather’s study, the past takes over. The blue uniform shirt inherited from his police chief grandfather, and the liquor card it holds right next to the heart, are not all he shares with his grandfather Urho after all.

The Liquor Card is a touching and intrepid tale of forbidden love. It tells the story of two men, Urho and Toivo, for whom the end of the war does not bring peace. The making of compromises, a necessity in their day, didn’t end despite changes to the laws on homosexuality: Urho’s descendants have also remained silent. Until Mikael finds a photograph hidden inside his grandfather’s liquor card…

Sami Hilvo (b. 1967) is at home in both Helsinki and Tokyo. He currently earns his living by translating, interpreting, and practicing international trade, but more unusual entries also appear on his CV, including bartender, diplomat, art model, dancer, communications officer, and producer. He currently lives in Helsinki with his Brazilian spouse. Liquor Card is his debut novel.

Praise:

”If literature has callings, then giving voice to the oppressed is undeniably one of them. That doesn’t mean that all works carrying out this task are successful. But Hilvo writes well. There’s no shortage of observations and vision.” – Antti Majander, Helsingin Sanomat

Sami Hilvo — The Liquor Card — PDF Sample Translation

Are We Really Like This?

To be, or not, a true Finn? Illustration: Joonas Väänänen

A new article translation at Books from Finland on Finland’s answer to Sarah Palin.

Elections are coming: what will the vox populi, the voice of the people, dictate? And which people will be deciding Finland’s political future? As columnist Jyrki Lehtola reports, a political debate has arisen about the ‘right’ and the ‘wrong’ sort of pollster – and the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ kind of Finn.

Link

Where Have All the Young Girls Gone / Minne tytöt kadonneet

Leena Lehtolainen

Tammi, 2010.

By Leena Lehtolainen.

A complete translation is of this novel is now available. Please contact me or the Elina Ahlbäck Agency for more information if you are an interested publisher.

From the Elina Ahlbäck Agency:

The new installment of the Maria Kallio series is a chronicle of xenophobia and hate. Maria Kallio is investigating the disappearance of three Muslim girls – and the killing of another. Maria Kallio, working on an EU project training Afghani police, travels to the opening ceremonies for the country’s new police academy, with disastrous consequences. Upon returning home to Finland, Maria begins work in the Espoo Special Crimes Unit and is assigned to investigate the disappearances of three immigrant girls. The girls frequented the same girls’ club as Maria’s daughter Iida. Then the body of a fourth Muslim girl is found in the snow, strangled with her own headscarf. Are the cases related? Is a serial killer on the move? Or did the girls’ families have something to do with the disappearances?

Leena Lehtolainen’s Where Have All the Young Girls Gone is an engrossing exploration of the collision between tradition and the new multicultural Europe. It is a journey into a world where daily life is defined by ancient belief and deeply ingrained, habitual perception. Who is in the right when there are two truths?

Leena Lehtolainen — Where Have All the Young Girls Gone — Sample Translation (PDF)

Also by this author:

The Killing One

Translation Tip #1: Talk to more than one translator

Summary: you have options, and your selection of translator matters.

Literary translators don’t exactly grow on trees. However, at least in my main combination, Finnish to English, there are now options. As a result of a number of factors, most importantly perhaps the work of FILI Finnish Literature Exchange, there are now perhaps a half-dozen translators working at least part-time doing Finnish literary translation into English. If we think more broadly, including non-fiction as well as fiction, the number climbs to ten or fifteen.

However, this is a new enough development that many translation clients are still unaware of their options, or in the worst case scenario, don’t believe the selection of a translator really matters.

Literary translation is a creative process similar to the writing of an original work. There are differences of course, since the starting point is an existing work rather than the writer’s imagination, but in terms of the editorial and publication process, life is much easier if we just think of the translator as a co-author who is rewriting the original work. The translated work is a new creation. So, if we’re thinking of the translator as a co-author, it’s pretty obvious that it matters who the translator is. You wouldn’t hire just anyone to be your co-author. For that matter, you wouldn’t even hire just anyone to be your editor or proofreader.

Which brings me to one of the scourges of the translation world: the phrase “native speaker”. There are approximately 375 million native speakers of English in the world. How many of them are competent to edit a work of fiction by a major author? How many of them can even write a professional document? Not many. As a former college instructor, I can attest that being a “native speaker” doesn’t count for much when it comes to the ability to write well. Even within the translation industry (not just literary translation–all translation) there are plenty of native English speakers who I wouldn’t let touch a document I really cared about. Everybody makes mistakes, and no one is the God of Perfect Grammar, but that doesn’t mean anyone should settle for substandard work. Everyone needs an editor and a proofreader, but the editor shouldn’t have to rewrite the whole dang thing.

So how do you choose a translator? The same way you choose anyone else you need to work for you: interview, ask for references, and look at their prior work (actually look at it, don’t just accept that because it was published it must be good). If you’re offering a major project, like a book translation, ask for short sample translations (just 2 or 3 pages) from two or three translators. Longer samples than that you have to pay for, but a few pages isn’t a big investment for the translator.

But wait, you say, I’m not an English language professional myself; I’m not even a native speaker. How can I tell which translator is better for my project?

A non-native who regularly reads English language literature will be able to discern major problems with a translator’s work; however, if you’re serious about your translation project, you need more help.

Next up: Translation Tip #2: Hire a professional English proofreader.

The Oven / Uuni

The Oven by Antti Hyry

Winner of the 2009 Finlandia Prize for Literature.

A man builds a brick oven and ponders life. Events come and go, the bricks rise and remain. “He started to remember a model, an oven in the Hökkä’s cabin. It was nearly a meter high on the interior, of arching bricks, with an outlet for the flames in the back corner. The vents came forward at the top and then down the sides and then turned at the bottom toward the back wall and then from the back to meet in the middle of the oven and the current rose at the centre of the top of the oven, coming forward into the chimney that led from the brow of the oven
up to the roof.”

Summer comes. Although the oven is finished, the building continues. It’s about life, its continuation, permanence and transience. About the grasp of life that comes from doing.

Award-winning author Antti Hyry, one of our most esteemed writers, published his breakthrough novel, He Started from the Highway, in 1958. His 1999 The Granary was a nominee for the Finlandia Prize.

The Oven is Hyry’s tenth novel.

Antti Hyry’s texts have been published in thirteen languages, by Hinstorff
(Germany) and Bonniers (Sweden), among others.

(From the Otava Rights Guide)

From FILI:

In Hyry’s novel, the reader’s interest is not directed to a plot or character portraits. There are no dramatic turning points in this description of the construction of a baking oven. On the surface, Hyry’s writing is reminiscent of the kinds of modernists who build their texts on simple perceptions of the world of objects in order to emphasize incompleteness in their sketches of the world. Instead, the person in Hyry’s book is taking concrete steps to establish a home in the world. His tasks gain their significance from the meaningful places of life in its entirety. This portrait of everyday life thus opens out into a cosmos where the central character is living the life he was meant to live.

Sample Extract of The Oven/Uuni in English (PDF)

On the Rocky Road to a Good Translation — Long Version

An abridged version of this essay has been published at Books from Finland.

I am a professional translator, and I have a secret: I don’t read translations. Shocked? Don’t be.

I’m not alone. The literary website Three Percent draws its name from the fact that only about 3 % of books published in the United States are translations (the figure for Germany is apparently something like 50 %). There are various opinions about why this is, including this one from Three Percent’s Chad Post writing at Publishing Perspectives. I’ll get to my own explanation in a moment.

Why do I say it’s a secret that I don’t read translations? Because people expect me to read translations, as if as a translator it were my sacred duty to show solidarity with my professional community. Or maybe I can’t be cosmopolitan otherwise. Americans are just a bunch of xenophobic boors anyway, right? If you like that explanation, I hope it keeps you warm at night. In most industries, if the boys in marketing fail to reach a major target audience, they get kicked to the gutter. But if it makes you feel better to blame the consumer, be my guest.

Here’s the cold, hard truth: there are some 350 million native English speakers in the world, most of whom live in the United States. The US is the equivalent of 60 Finlands in terms of population. Among those 350 million English speakers there are a lot of writers. And while for a very few readers translated literature is a category unto itself, for most of us translated literature is competing with everything else on the fiction shelves. If a translation doesn’t get read widely (and most don’t), the translated book itself (a new work being presented in a new context) has failed to appeal to a publisher enough for them to spend money marketing it and failed to appeal to an audience enough for them to finish the book and then recommend it to a friend.

Ok, so why don’t translations usually compete well? I don’t think it’s any mystery. In a really, really good book, the concepts and events being described run together with the language being used to describe them. The concepts the author imagines influence the choices made in the language, and the language the author conjures influences the choices of concept. And I’m not talking just at the novel level. I mean from sentence to sentence and word to word.

In genre fiction, the concepts (i.e. the “action”) are most important, so the language is more functional than poetic, which is part of why some literati turn their noses up at it. Genre literature generally translates well. In art fiction, there is more balance, sometimes even with the how of the expression becoming more important than the what. This is extremely difficult to translate, especially given the cult of “faithfulness” among translators. Even though I know what the author just described, I can’t just restate it, since he also made sure every other word in the sentence started with the same letter (just to choose a common device from Finnish). How often do you think that sort of thing can be replicated in another language? In a language from a completely different language family (Finnish is non-Indo-European)? Not often.

So with art fiction, right out of the gate you can assume that a big part of what made the book a success is going to be lost. Just think about it. Does anyone get turned off from translated literature by a Henning Mankell? No. It’s usually a Kafka or Marquez that was challenging enough in the original, but made absolutely incomprehensible in translation. (Luckily for big names like those, a new translation usually comes along.) We read Mankell for the puzzle—the language just has to not get in the way. We read Marquez for both the story and the language.

Take how many people have had a bad experience with a translation that made the foreign seem alien, add the language barriers between foreign books and domestic agents and publishers, and then put this in the context of stiff domestic competition, and you get only 3 % of books published in the US being translations.

The ironic thing about the 3 % figure is how tremendously important translated literature is to the Anglo-American literary consciousness. Ask anyone who paid attention in high school who the greatest authors of all time are, and you’re almost certain to get at least two Russians, a Frenchman or two, a Spaniard, two Chileans, and a Brazilian, plus an ancient Greek or three.

Despite my dirty little secret, my favorite book is a translation. When I was eighteen years old, I read Narcissus and Goldmund, by Hermann Hesse. I’m not one for rereading books, but this has been an exception. However, and with all due respect to the English language translator, Ursule Molinaro (and whoever her editor was), even as a teenager, and without any reference to the source German text, I knew the translation wasn’t the best it could be. But note, this is my favorite book, so whatever deficiencies there are in the translation or with the original work, the virtues of both far outweigh them for me. And let me tell you, the problems with Narcissus and Goldmund (and with every other conscientious translation in the history of the world) are child’s play compared to some of what I’ve seen lately.

Remember what we’re talking about though: one of the most beloved books by a Nobel Prize winner who explored the same themes over and over, honing his conceptual expression, written at the height of his career. What happens to the average book that ends up in a translation in which an eighteen-year-old can see deficiencies?

I can tell you what happens to it in my case: it doesn’t get read. I read a paragraph, I start editing the grammar and punctuation in my mind, perhaps rephrasing the dialogue, and I get bored. Whatever great concepts or action there might be in the book, if the language is sub-par, I’m never going to get far enough to find out. There’s just too much good literature (and other things) out there to waste my time. No book is ever perfect, but at the very, very least the language needs to not get in the way of whatever might be interesting otherwise about the book.

One of the most basic standards in professional translation is that translators only translate into their native language. Brain development changes after age 12; if you don’t learn a language before that point, you aren’t a native speaker. Taking me as an example, Finnish and Estonian are second languages for me, so I translation from these languages into English. If someone asks me to translate the other direction, I say no.

The reason should be pretty obvious: even if a translator were to misunderstand something in the original, if he can express what he understood in a fluent, interesting way, the reader will almost certainly never know or care there had been a misunderstanding. Reading is always an act of interpretation after all. But if the language is odd, the reader knows immediately.

What do I mean by odd language? I mean teenagers whose speech makes them sound 50 years old. I mean book after book narrated in the present tense, which is rare and usually awkward in English. I mean non-English punctuation, particularly comma splices. I mean non-English expressions like “open the television” resulting from literal translation. I could go on.

The basic remedies for these types of problems are professional-level fluency and proofreading.

Fluency is, like most human attributes, a result of innate ability, training, and maintenance. The professional translator presumably already has the first two, but maintaining fluency can be devilishly tricky. Does that seem odd?

Consider the path a (Finnish) translator walks to arrive at his profession. First comes a connection to Finland, one that surprisingly often comes either by chance or fate, depending on one’s cosmology. Then comes what we might call an infatuation: the nascent translator becomes obsessed with Finnish language and culture, which leads to improved language skills and literary awareness. By the time the literary translator really breaks into the profession, his Finland hobby has likely been going on for a decade. If the translator works with Finnish literature by day professionally, and then continues to read Finnish literature, follow Finnish news, and keep up with Finnish friends during his free time out of old habit, how current is he likely to stay with literature in his native language? Taking myself as an example, I know exactly what’s going on in Finnish literature right now, but I haven’t really the slightest idea about what’s going on in American literature, other than some guy named Franzen is hot. Peter? Oh, no, Jonathan. Peter is the Finnish actor. See what I mean?

So why is a failure to stay current with my native language literature a problem? Because my job, the entire point of my profession, is to produce good English. This is what translation is: rewriting a book from another language in your own. The author takes care of the plot and the Finnish, and I’m supposed to take care of the English. Reading Finnish doesn’t help with that. Reading other translators’ work probably won’t help either, and may even hurt. However, every word of English-language literature I read can improve my ability to manipulate the English language in the way that Finnish authors manipulate Finnish. To my mind, reading in his own language should be a literary translator’s primary professional development activity. And when I say read, I don’t just mean read, I mean read and pay attention. The basic mechanics of fluent expression are surprisingly easy to lose one’s grasp on, especially when constantly immersed in a foreign set of mechanics. Remember the comma splices—Finnish uses commas differently than English, and translators forget.

Finally, the translator’s lifeline. The importance of professional proofreading and editing cannot be overstated. Publishing translations without multiple reviews by native linguistic experts is professional suicide for everyone whose name is on the title page. The same is true of written materials used to promote translated literature. A publisher or agent who sends out material without multiple reviews by native linguistic professionals doesn’t want to make money (sample translations and promotional materials should be top quality, not an afterthought—see this post by Emily Williams ).

Literature in translation can and does compete with native literature, even in demanding markets. I don’t expect to see any “breakthrough” that permanently changes the 3 % figure cited above, but that doesn’t mean translated literature has failed to find a readership. It just means that there is a lot of competition and that every book succeeds or fails on its merits, not on the reputation of the overall field. Whatever momentum one big hit may create is likely to be short-lived. Yes, there are aspects of the book trade that make breaking in difficult, but every new author faces these challenges. Perhaps the greatest disservice any of us involved in translation can do is to adopt a sort exceptionalist attitude, as if the success of a book or author in Finland (or wherever) should give the book a free pass from all of the normal requirements for finding a publisher and an audience. Hype will only get you so far.

Last week I perused the shelves at a local big box store, which only sells best-sellers. I was pleased with how many translations there were; definitely more than 3 % of the fiction. But in every case there was something odd. One book pretended not to be a translation. In another the translator’s name was buried in the copyright page. The third, fourth, and fifth we’ve all heard about. Despite the heroic efforts of thousands of translators over the years at an impossible task, often working at a pittance, there have been enough problems to convince publishers here that they have to be wary of translations.

The beginning of this essay is a lie. I do read translations. I want to read translations. But you, the translator, and I, the translator, must understand that I like television and films and music and my bicycle and my garden and my dog as much as I like books. I like my wife and my children and my church even more. I read the books I’m supposed to in order to be literate, but I also read science fiction and fantasy and espionage.* I’m not a captive audience. You have to win me over. Please win me over. You can’t say the Finnish or German or Chinese or whatever made you do it. You have to be a translator. Take responsibility. Win me over.

*But not nonfiction. Too far-fetched for my tastes. I do look at the pictures though.

On the Rocky Road to a Good Translation — Books from Finland

You get the picture? A translation error in China. Photo: Leena Lahti

See my new article on the difficulty of translation and how to make it better at Books from Finland.

Why just three per cent? Translator Owen Witesman seeks an explanation for the difficulties of selling foreign fiction to the self-sufficient Anglo-American market. Could there be anything wrong with the translations?

I have a much longer version of the essay here.

Towers / Tornit

Tammi, 2009.

by Jyrki Vainonen

From the Tammi/Elina Ahlbäck Agency Rights Guide:

A unique story of death, revenge and atonement from a true Master of Surprise. The Towers is a perceptive and psychologically charged story, mixed with the elements of fantasy, erotica and horror. Jyrki Vainonen’s works have previously been likened to those of Roald Dahl and Julio Cortàzar, and his world is found in the wild no-man’s-land between reality and fantasy.

Jyrki Vainonen — Towers — Sample Translation (PDF)

What Grade is Your Kid in?

Illustration: Joonas Väänänen

Another article I translated for Books from Finland, this one from fall 2010.

Should a journalist show his hand? Columnist Jyrki Lehtola ponders the pros and cons of showing one’s true political colours.

Link

Worms / Torajyvät

Photo: Mikko Lehtimäki

From the Tammi/Elina Ahlbäck Agency Rights Guide:

Worms is an intensely emotional tale of the long shadows cast by the past and atonement for irreversible deeds. It is also a story about modern day people clinging to their blind faith in their own free agency as they are faced with the forgotten secrets of the past. On a barren island lurks the mysterious legacy of a shipwreck, marked by nine stone graves and a small, dilapidated chapel. These ghostly memorials conceal an ancient tragedy and an ideology in which a sinner is of no more worth than a worm crawling in the dirt. And on the island, that legacy appears to live on.

Marko’s blog post about the work of writing (Finnish, but with some fun pictures).

Read what the reviewers are saying (ENGLISH)

Sample available for publishers

Also read about Marko’s previous, terrifying work, Shrouds.

 

The Book of Angels / Enkelten kirja

Tammi, 2010

By Markku Pääskynen

From the Elina Ahlbäck Agency rights guide:

A young father’s stunningly intensely depicted trial of strength in a time of difficulty Markku Pääskynen’s Book of Angels is an intense and poetic description of the waning of an individual’s strength and his slow ascent to fresh hope. It is a story of consolation, a bold description of the grandeur of the small, everyday things in life, of the fundamental questions of existence.

Why, and for whom, do we live? What is love? Pääskynen once again exhibits an astounding capacity, familiar to readers of Vihan päivä (The Day of Wrath), to see deep into the human heart.

“Enkelten kirja is based mainly on sensory observations, thoughts, feelings and memories. The reader is compelled to remain attentive as the course of events and referential function of the story gradually become unveiled. – – It is nice to see a novel that places so much confidence in the power of words.”
– Parnasso

Markku Pääskynen — Book of Angels – Ch 1-3 (PDF)

Additional text from Books from Finland

Books from Finland Review

Markku Pääskynen on “Writing and not writing”

Death of the Bear / Karhun Kuolema

Tammi, 2010

From the Ahlbäck Agency foreign rights guide:

A lyrical, down-to-earth story of family members painfully searching for their place in this world.

A ballad of unrequited love. “The bear would shamble up and she would become the bear’s and everything would be the way it was and no one would be able to do anything about it.” But the bear never comes, and Stella stops waiting.

Until someone starts sniffing around the house. The Bear’s Death expands on Finno-Ugric mythology. Mumma dies but refuses to rest. She cannot; she is simply incapable of it. The paralyzed old woman was at the mercy of her daughter Fanny while she was alive, but now she is free and everything remains unfinished.

Fanny’s son Alex is rootless. His relationship with a round-cheeked Inuit doesn’t bring him peace of mind, nor does returning to his homeland, where his cool and distant mother awaits.

Only Fanny’s sister Stella, a healer shunned by her fellow villagers, knows her place: she will become the bear’s bride. But only those who are bound forcefully enough to the earth can find comfort in the arms of the bear.

“The narration in Essi Kummu’s second novel appeals to the senses. The fragrance of the forest, the prickle of pine needles and a warming smile give wings to the flow of this story so permeated in death. — Kummu writes like many other young women of today: physically, sinfully and visibly breaching boundaries.”
– Aamulehti

Essi Kummu — Death of the Bear — Sample Translation 04.11.2010



Tatu and Patu as Superheroes! / Tatu ja Patu Supersankareina

Otava, 2010.
By Aino Havukainen and Sami Toivonen

From Otava.fi:

Super fast, super fun, super weird! Super oddballs Tatu and Patu kick off their new, fantastic Incredible Adventures series!

Tatu thinks superheroes are awesome. “Just think how great it would be to run faster than a tall building or leap speeding bullets in a single bound. Or wait, was it….”

Tatu and Patu’s dream comes true: with the help of a televisioactive laser beam they transform from ordinary Oddsvillians into superheroes, who set out to battle super scoundrels and struggle against misrepresentation! They become Active Boy, protector of the weak and hurried, and Measure Man, defender of all that is good and precise in the world.

Soon enough, Hypercyberman needs their super skills to find out where all of the beautiful, old buildings of Ridiculopolis have disappeared to and who left a giant box labelled Ultramodern Administrative Centre of Excellence in the place where city hall used to be.

The unprecedented, breakneck pace and insane action will keep Oddsville fans of all ages riveted. Catchy slogans and super moves included at no extra charge!

Aino Havukainen and Sami Toivonen have been honoured with many awards, including the Finlandia Junior Prize. Their super-popular boys from Oddsville have made astounding breakthroughs in the real world, too: the rights to Tatu and Patu books have been sold to thirteen different countries and have already been published in translation by such publishing houses as Clavis, Édition Glénat, Kaisei-sha, Rabén & Sjögren, and Thienemann.

Also see Tatu and Patu’s This is Finland the Oddball Bedtime Book and my article in Books from Finland.

(A full English sample is available upon request)

Strange Love / Outoa rakkautta

Turbator/Pelipeitto Oy, 2008

By Kirsti Ellilä

Read an excerpt.

From the Burning Bridge Agency project:

Romantic horror stories

Kirsti Ellilä’s (b. 1958) short stories will be a surprise to readers who expect routine romantic short prose: her stories are literally strange, stories about human relationships in which romance intersects with elements of crime, horror, fantasy, and science fiction. Ellilä has demonstrated herself to be an excellent short-story writer with a first-rate ability for describing human relationships, no matter what the genre.

Kirsti Ellilä is a generalist writer who lives in Turku and has published books for children, teens, and adults. Her work in various genres ranges from ironic relationship stories to psychological thrillers, fantasy, and horror. Ellilä has also written science fiction short stories and three plays. Ellilä’s protagonists are female: girls, teenagers, and young women. She describes her characters’ lives, their strengths and weaknesses, through the means of irony and sarcasm, with a feminist spin.

Ellilä’s most recent novel, Life Preservers (Pelastusrenkaita, Karisto 2010), touches on the discussion within the Lutheran about the rights of sexual minorities, female ordination, divorce, and love affairs between middle-aged women and young men. Life Preservers is an independent sequel to the novel Priest on Board (Pappia kyydissä, Karisto 2009). Ellilä’s next work, a fairytale novel written for teens named Reetta and the Prisoners of the Castle (Reetta ja linnan vangit), will appear in fall 2010.

What the critics are saying about Kirsti Ellilä:

“The characters are regular mortals, quiet and conscientious everyday types, whose extravagant passions and sexual desires, as well as their most powerful dreams and visions, are revealed as the narrative progresses. … Ellilä’s genius is precisely in this mode of narration, in which the internal and secret passions of the absolutely average, everyday person float to the surface.” – Hömpän helmet women’s literature blog

“Ellilä builds the action of the book with a light touch” –Salla Vrunou, Etelä-Saimaa newspaper

“I recommend this for everyone, both as entertainment and to spark ideas and conversation.” – Kirjavinkit.fi book reviews

“Ellilä’s trump card, in addition to humor, is that she makes her protagonists multidimensional, interesting characters. She skillfully writes according to the conventions of the romance genre, yet at the same time modifying and turning those same conventions on their head.” – Sanojen aika, Helsinki City Library

Longing for Mars / Marsin ikävä

The incomparable debut collection from the Finnish science fiction guru.

M. G. Soikkeli belongs to the absolute top names in new Finnish science fiction literature. The most notable Finnish sci-fi prize, the Portti magazine competition, has already been won by Soikkeli on three occasions. Longing for Mars was also nominated for the Tähtivaeltaja Prize for best published Finnish science fiction book in 2008.

The stories in Longing for Mars, which expertly plumb the different trends in the genre, show that sci-fi is more than entertainment. Soikkeli’s sociological short stories are a splendid example of the possibilities for the science fiction short story as literature addressing even the most sensitive of topics. However, Soikkeli’s short stories also include excitement, subdued humor, and dizzying speculation both about the development of the sciences and of society. The short stories in Longing for Mars are passionate studies of the possibilities of being human in a world of increasing technological advancement.

Markku Soikkeli (pen name M. G. Soikkeli, b. 1963) is a Finnish science fiction author and student of literature. Soikkeli holds a PhD and works at the Tampere University Department of Literature and Arts. Previously Soikkeli has served as a lecturer in Finnish literature at the University of Turku and as a visiting professor. Soikkeli also works as a critic, reviewing both film and literature. Soikkeli was the host of the Kirja A&Ö (‘Book ?&?’) television show until 2000.

“Soikkeli’s short story collection demonstrates that in skillful hands science fiction is like a vitamin shot straight to the brain, stimulating thought and opening up new worlds.” -Vesa Sisättö, Helsingin Sanomat newspaper

“This bewitching short story collection masterfully traverses several styles of science fiction.” -Tähtivaeltaja Prize committee statement

“Translated into English these stories would be good enough for presentation in the top markets abroad.” – Toni Jerrman, Tähtivaeltaja sci-fi magazine

Cover picture: Jukka Murtosaari 2007

Read the title short story, “Longing for Mars,” in English

Red Castle Hike

View north from Red Castle Lake (our group on the left).

Just got back last week from three days with the Boy Scouts in the Red Castle area of the high Uintas. Hiked in ~11 miles the first day and then toured the lakes the next day, adding another good 12 miles. We had rain, sleet, and snow most every day for a while, intermingled with sun. Hiked out the third day. The fishing was good, but I wish I would have taken my photo gear instead. One boy firmly established that pants are required equipment in the back country. I’m also pretty sure now that ponchos are not actually rain gear. Oh, and jungle hammocks appear to be the one true tent alternative

Red Castle on the approach

Unsuccessful attempt at Upper Red Castle Lake

Shrouds / Käärinliinat

Tammi 2009, 279 pp

By Marko Hautala.

From the Tammi/Elina Ahlbäck Rights Guide:

A story about people’s need to preserve their loved ones, both dead and alive, but also the need to conceal their wrongdoing from the eyes of others.

On a mild May day, as Finland is celebrating its victory in the Ice Hockey World Championships, a violent crime takes place in the depths of a concrete suburb. The murderer turns out to be Olavi Finne, a lonely old man who can’t explain what happened. He’s locked up in a mental institution.

Over ten years later, thirty-year old Mikael is assigned to be Finne’s designated nurse. Mikael’s life is in crisis: his spouse is seriously ill, and Mikael is suffering from the trauma resulting from a violent episode at work. Death and a continual state of fear hang over his life as very tangible threats.

Being assigned to the seemingly harmless Olavi was supposed to have made Mikael’s life easier. But the men’s caregiver-patient bond rapidly begins to grow tighter, as Mikael grows interested in the curious stories related by his odd patient.

Gradually Mikael begins to doubt the patient record, according to which Olavi is simply an old man suffering from schizophrenia. His stories of the possibility of eternal life and toying with the idea of gaining victory over death instil a new, bizarre hope in Mikael.

Shrouds is simultaneously a dark and intense story about the power of the human mind as well as a merciless depiction of the harsh life at a mental institution.

“The ending offers a surprise which upgrades a fine story to an excellent one.” Metro

Marko Hautala — Shrouds — Sample Translation (PDF)

Marko’s blog

An interview with Marko at Sea Minor

Also by this author:

Worms

The Killing One / Tappava säde

Leena Lehtolainen

I recently finished a sample translation for the Elina Ahlbäck Agency of Leena Lehtolainen‘s novel Tappava säde, the current working title of which is The Killing One.

Leena Lehtolainen is the bestselling female crime author in Finland. Her new titles head straight to #1 on the Finnish bestseller lists. In  addition to her career as an author, she has also worked as a literary researcher, columnist, and critic. Lehtolainen published her first novel at the age of 12; this work of juvenile fiction Ja äkkiä onkin toukokuu (”And Suddenly It’s May”) appeared in 1976. Five years later her novel Kitara on rakkauteni (”My Guitar is My One True Love”), about a teenage band, was published.

The 1993 work Ensimmäinen murhani (”My First Murder”) kicked off Lehtolainen’s series of crime novels, which through its distinctly down-to-earth heroine, Maria Kallio, has brought an enthusiastically received female perspective to the male-dominated detective genre.

The forthcoming Maria Kallio novel, Minne tytöt kadonneet (”Where Have All the Young Girls Gone”), is already the eleventh in this  bestselling crime series. Recently Lehtolainen started a new thrilling trilogy with another convincing female lead, Hilja Ilveskero. The first novel of this trilogy, Henkivartija (“The Bodyguard”), came out in 2009. Lehtolainen has also published outside the crime genre, most recently the work Luonas en ollutkaan (”I Wasn’t With You After All”, 2007). Translations of Leena Lehtolainen’s works have already been published in 15 languages.

Read more about Lehtolainen’s work and a sample of The Killing One here.

Elina Ahlbäck Agency 2010 Rights Guide

Also by Leena Lehtolainen:

Where Have All the Young Girls Gone

Enhanced by Zemanta

Oddball Bedtime Book / Tatun ja Patun Outo unikirja

Otava, 2008

By Aino Havukainen and Sami Toivonen

From the Otava Rights Catalog:

An indispensable book for anyone who sleeps! This book has everything, from instructions for choosing a bedtime toy to a troubleshooting chart for insomniacs. As a bonus, the book includes the world’s most boring bedtime story. When goddaughter Satu is coming to spend the night at Tatu and Patu’s house, the boys go all out in preparation. Since they’ll have to put her to bed, they’ve composed a new treatise entitled On Dreams, Drowsiness, Bedtime, and Lovely Lullabies or O.D.D.B.A.L.L.

The book explains how to choose the perfect bedtime toy to achieve the optimum stuffed-toy density. There is a troubleshooting diagram for when sleep just won’t come. The boys also figure out how the length of fingernails affects back-scratching and how the soulfulness quotient of a lullaby affects the sleeper’s ability to achieve drowsiness.

The book also tells what really happens when you sleep and leads Tatu and Patu on a wild adventure in dreamland. The true meaning of sleep is made clear, and the terrifying consequences of prolonged night-owling are only too clearly revealed.

Going to Bed
(A full English translation is available upon request.)

Previously published: This is Finland. Also see Tatu and Patu in Helsinki, Tatu and Patu’s Adventures in Outer Space, Tatu and Patu: Superheroes!, and Tatu and Patu’s Amazing Alphabet.

Taking Offense / Mielensäpahoittaja

My translation of extracts from the collection of short prose, Mielensäpahoittaja (‘Taking offense’, WSOY, 2010) by Tuomas Kyrö were just published at Books from Finland.

The extracts at Books from Finland

Tuomas Kyrö at WSOY

Tuomas Kyrö’s blog

What Happiness Is / Mitä onni on

Otava 2008, 191 pp.

From Petri Tamminen. Tamminen (b. 1966) is known in Finland as a master of short prose and laconic humor. His work has often consisted of page-length vignettes, and even when writing in longer formats, as in the short novel What Happiness Is, the focus remains on trenchant observations of individual phenomena. To summarize What Happiness Is very briefly: two friends set out to write a book about happiness. In the process, the protagonist manages to destroy much of what might have formed the basis for his own happiness.

As a reader, Tamminen’s work speaks to me. He captures the experience of being a man in contemporary society in a way that few authors do. Although there is little in common on the surface, I associate him strongly with Hermann Hesse in his ability to capture the essence of the masculine experience. But whereas with Hesse the struggle is generally of the lone man, the academic or the ascetic, Tamminen’s man is man in context–above all the young to middle-aged father, the man interacting with other men, and the man with nothing in particular to recommend him to anyone, yet with the necessity of getting from one day to the next. In this regard, I also associate his work with Steinbeck’s The Winter of our Discontent, although Tamminen’s humor tends to make his visions more bearable.

Tamminen’s other works include Elämiä (‘Lives’, 1994), Miehen ikävä (‘Male blues’, 1997), Väärä asenne (‘The wrong attitude’, 2000), Piiloutujan maa, (Hiding Places, 2002, trans. 2007 Aspasia Books), Muistelmat (‘Memoirs’, 2004), and Enon opetukset (‘Learning from my uncle’ Otava 2006). In addition to English, Tamminen’s work has been translated into Swedish, German, Latvian, and Czech. Tamminen has previously been awarded the Kalevi Jäntti Prize (2002) and been nominated for the Finlandia (2006) and Runeberg (1997 and 2000) Prizes. Tamminen is a journalism graduate of Tampere University. He lives in Vääksy, Finland, and works as a freelance writer.

PDF Sample

Books from Finland Review

Haka

Like Publishing, 2009.

By Tuomas Lius.

From the publisher:

A weapon of mass destruction from the Second World War.

A lake in Northern Karelia.

A distinguished female undercover cop and a redneck heartthrob.

These are the ingredients of Haka, a startling first effort which is shooting to the top of the thriller charts. It is a supreme mix of eccentric characters and multiple sources of suspense that culminates in a race to find an abandoned German recognisance device at the bottom of a lake in Northern Karelia.

Tuomas Lius (born 1976) moves through the story with a master’s touch, succeeding in building an unusually smooth and believable thriller with a style of its own, a book that will entertain readers across generations.

“Haka” is Japanese for “bury”, and is, in this book, the name of a weapon developed by the Japanese.

My take: I particularly like the intensity of the initial setup between the protagonist and the terrorist Mona Knaup. The beginning is a really grabber. The proof is in the pudding with this one, folks. Check out the sample.

Haka PDF Sample

Clearly Drunk / Selvästi juovuksissa

Otava, 2006

By Juhani Seppänen.

Helsingin Sanomat review

From the Otava 2006 Foreign Rights Catalog:

This book could change your attitude to alcohol – for good. The author spins the bottle and questions many of the things we take for granted about the demon drink, shaking up some long-held misconceptions.

Out of a population of around five million, Finland boasts around 500,000 “heavy users” of alcohol. Liquor is an everyday thing for increasing numbers of people, not to mention its use on festive occasions. Does the idea of a party with just a glass of water for company leave you shaken but not stirred?

Just who is dependent on alcohol? Is alcoholism a sickness, and where does the fault lie when the hard stuff leads people astray?

For Juhani Seppänen, who himself confesses to be among those heavy users, the idea of a year without a drink seemed impossible. He decided to try. The book tells what thoughts alcohol prompted in his mind. And how his “going dry” attempt fared.

As a health centre physician, Juhani Seppänen encounters on a daily basis people for whom alcohol has become a problem. Clearly Drunk passes on its lessons using the same cocktail of the amusing and the profound that was found in his earlier books And the First Word is “Daddy” (2000) and Working Like Mad (2004), both of which won attention, plaudits, and a host of enthusiastic readers.

Extract (PDF)

The Block / Pölkky

Teos 2007. 384 Pages

By Mikko Rimminen.

Rimminen’s second novel Pölkky (“The Block”) is a story about a park attendant in Helsinki whose inaction is narrated with extreme stylistic precision. Even the most insignificant move by the main character is shared with the reader. However, unlike Volter Kilpi’s tour de force Alastalon salissa (800 pages about a 6 hour span), or even Ulysses, you’re certain to finish The Block, rather than reading the CliffsNotes and then pretending you actually read the book. Rimminen’s second novel is breathtakingly funny and its language is pure genius.

PDF Sample

From Teos.fi:

Review in Helsingin Sanomat 28.9.2007 by Kuisma Korhonen (NOT translated by me)

Mikko Rimminen’s second novel is a thrilling tragicomedy about loneliness

Mikko Rimminen’s debut novel three years ago was greeted with joy: it was a return of long sentences to Finnish prose. The old-fashioned, florid and almost perversely detailed style reminded many readers of the classic Alastalon salissa by Volter Kilpi. The story of beer-drinking trio of friends in summery Helsinki got epochal dimensions.

Pölkky (The Block) is a natural and successful next step in Rimminen’s writing career. The Block continues in the same style as Rimminen’s first novel but manages to sufficiently differentiate itself. The sensual slowness of the narrative is still there but whereas the main theme in Pussikaljaromaani was friendship, The Block tells a story of loneliness.

Comical and tragic nuances are the common factors in the two books although The Block contains more tragedy. The books manage to treat the main characters – people in the margins of society – in a mercilessly satirical manner as well as with unreserved compassion.

The main character in The Block is indeed a block-like character who personifies loneliness; he is frozen with depression and fear of humans. He struggles through the book from one ordeal to another, not unlike the heroes in silent comedies. If the reader was that little bit further removed from the story and its events, he would feel like laughing at it; a little bit closer, and he couldn’t but cry.

At the beginning of the book a man steps out of a train and settles down in a shed by the side of the Kaisaniemi sports field in Helsinki. He is the new caretaker of the sports field.

During the following weeks he sits, lies down, takes naps, wakes up, ventures cautiously outside the hut, comes back in, opens a cold can of tuna – and that’s about it. When the temperature drops below zero he tries to freeze the ice-rink in the park but when faced with problems he himself freezes into immobility.

The protagonist doesn’t meet many people and the rare encounters that do occur are painful. There is Vänätyinen, an obnoxious drunkard, and Anni, a wonderful woman. The main character can only produce uneasy grunts while communicating with them. Not that the other characters speak that much either.

The reader is held in suspense page after page wondering whether the main character is able to walk across the field or to find something approaching a toilet in the shed or merely extend his hand to a greeting. This kind of totally unsociable character is a rare phenomenon in Finnish literature, and it is rare that the readers are made to feel such a strong compassion for him.

And somewhere deep underneath the ice-rink strange noises can be heard. They act like a reminder of the unknown forms of lives, tunnels and quakes that exist underneath the outwardly measly appearances of the characters. Some day they may even reach the surface.

The other main character in the book is the narrator, an outsider but not an omnipotent force. He (or indeed it) almost appears to be some sort of angel or spiritual being that floats in the air, sees and hears what is going around him but can only understand parts of it.

The narrator is able to follow the main character behind closed doors and to see his most private moments but he has not got an inkling of the character’s name or personal history.

The narrator refers to “this absurd task of telling and following that has given to us” as if some greater being had indeed ordered him to follow and love the main character. The narrator also receives hints on future events, premonitions.

But the narrator cannot follow his character outside the park after the beginning of the book: when the man goes to a shop and leaves the park, he just disappears to the narrator’s horror and returns after a while with a shopping bag in his hand.

Instead of the big picture, the narrator concentrates on the details and comparisons. The autumnal fog over town feels like ”a working man’s mitten picked up from a muddy puddle and pushed into one’s mouth”, the tree-branches seem like ”veins crossing inside a dark, jelly-like form of life”. The boyish verbal acrobatics familiar from Pussikaljaromaani can be found in this novel as well.

Like his main character, the narrator proves to be a tragicomic character himself, one with good heart and compassion but without the power to influence the future events. He openly feels sorry for the character; he is wishing for a happy ending but fearing for the worst.

While the character he describes has difficulties in getting up from his bed and opening his mouth, the narrator himself finds it hard to cope with his own story-telling task; to actually move from one event to another and get over the consistent babble, hair-splitting and his obsession with comparisons.

And so the novel advances while the reader is waiting for something to happen.

I hope I don’t give too much away when I say that a lot does happen finally, and in a very fast pace indeed.

But before that, the reader must get used to the slow ticking of time, the fear of people, the sprinkle of vapor on one’s breath, the freezing ice of loneliness and the narrator’s agonizing and thrilling journey in a jungle of words.

Muistiin punottua = Woven into Memory

Atena Kustannus OY. 2006. 119 pages.

Dual-language book about contemporary Finnish weaving and fiber art by Minna Koskinen, Anelma Savolainen, and Anna-Maria Väätäinen. I translated the Finnish portions into English. The pictures are stunning!

Listing at Suomalainen.com

The Salpa Line / Salpalinja

Atena Publishing, 2009

By Paula Hahtola

In 1951 a mother and daughter travel to the country in search of acknowledgment of the mother’s paternity.

PDF Sample

The Ahtisaari Legacy: Resolve and Negotiate

Tammi Publishers. 2008. 219 pages.
Finnish edited by Nina Suomalainen and Jyrki Karvinen
English edited by Owen F. Witesman
Translation by Marju Galitsos, David Hackston, and Setti Mulari.

This book was put together from essays by diplomats and public officials who have worked closely with former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari in the Balkans. When I was approached about the project by Tammi, I was busy with school, so I suggested something that is rather rare in the literary translation world: subcontracting. I put together a team of translators I knew I could trust and farmed the chapters out to them, with me acting as project manager and translation editor to ensure consistency in the translation. We did this on a very short time table (two weeks) in order to have the book ready for the ceremonies surrounding Mr. Ahtisaari’s receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Quoted here.

Suomalainen.com bookstore listing

Hot! Hot! Hot! / Hot: chiliä ja muita mauste-elämyksiä

Bonnier Books Ltd. 2008. 184 pages.

A cookbook by Marianne Kiskola and Sanna Miettunen (2006).

It’s this food blogger’s favorite cookbook! One of the recipes being prepared at Kitchenbutteryfly.com.

Suomalainen.com bookstore listing

Amazon.co.uk listing

Children / Lapsia

By Teuvo Pakkala, 1895.

This is a little story I translated ages ago, mostly for fun. The original title is “Mahtisana” (‘The mighty word’) from the collection Lapsia. Another of those Finnish authors that the world is missing out on. Enjoy.

Teuvo Pakkala — Stignafulia — Mahtisana

Sport in Antiquity / Antiikin urheilu

Atena 2004.

Sport in Antiquity: From the fields of Olympia to the arenas of Rome
Antiikin urheilu: Olympian kentiltä Rooman areenoille

From Sami Koski, Mika Rissanen & Juha Tahvanainen. Winner of the most prestigious prize for nonfiction in Finland, the Tieto-Finlandia Award (2005).

This gave me a rare chance to use my undergraduate minor in Latin! This is a generously illustrated, general audience description of sporting in the ancient world, including detailed descriptions of individual events in addition to discussion of the cultural and religious significance of physical contests.

Sport in Antiquity Sample (PDF)

Local News / Paikallisuutiset

Miles Conway

Local news is a Finnish comic strip written by Vesa Ilmaranta and illustrated by Timo Kähkönen which has appeared in over 40 outlets. In addition to Finland, it has appeared in Norway and will soon be seen elsewhere. The basic storyline is that a young dot-com bubble victim named Miles Conway has moved back to his hometown to work in the local paper. He was burned out on the big city, but small-town life isn’t a piece of cake either.

See more strips at Localnews.fi.

Books from Finland

The only literary journal devoted to Finnish literature. I provided translations for every issue from late 2004 through the end of the journals print publication in 2008, approximately 50 essays and literature reviews in total, plus at least the short fiction translations listed below. I continue to contribute to their online publication.

“Misery me” [from Mielensäpahoittaja] by Tuomas Kyrö (2010).
“Noah’s progeny” [extracts from Puupää] by Juha Hurme (2009).
“What about me?” [from Mitä onni on] by Petri Tamminen. 42:3 (2008).
“No place to go” [from Lakanasiivet] by Sirpa Kähkönen. 42:1 (2008).
“Night Decorator” [“Yösisustaja”] by Sari Mikkonen. 41:1 (2007).

Article by me on translating This is Finland.

Search my work online at Books from Finland.

Footballs and Concert Halls / Sello & Pallo

Tammi, 2009.

Footballs and Concert Halls: A Light Blue Love Story or Concert Halls and Soccer Balls: A Light Blue Love Story in US (Sello & Pallo) by Lauri Törhönen.

Winner of the 2010 Topelius Prize for youth fiction.

This is a very sweet (but not saccharine), engaging love story with some of the same elements of anticipation that readers enjoy so much in the Twilight series. The main characters are thrown together, but then separated, with no real way of finding each other again.

Lauri Törhönen — Footballs and Concert Halls — Sample Translation (PDF)

From the Tammi/Elina Ahlbäck Agency foreign rights guide:

Renowned film and TV director Lauri Törhönen’s award-winning first novel – a youthful love story in baby blue.

When a cello-studying girl falls from heaven on a footballer boy so hard that he loses consciousness, anything can follow. At least it messes both of them up, but they still manage to look each other in the eye for a moment. When Mikael regains consciousness, he can only remember the girl’s brown eyes and baby-blue cello case. How can you find a strange brown-eyed girl amongst a million people? And how can you fall in love at first sight, if you lost consciousness right before that first sight?

In the end the power of love brings the two teenagers together, although the circumstances are almost overpowering. Even their first encounter takes place at Mikael’s father’s funeral. What will happen when the youngsters finally, after many twists and turns, get to meet? Will that be the end of their love story – or just a beginning…

Nimbus / Nimbus ja tähdet

Atena Publishing 2004. 389 pages.
Written by Tero Niemi and Anne Salminen

Classic sci-fi with lyrical, wistful feel reminiscent of Bradbury mixed with the hard science edge familiar from Arthur C. Clark and Kim Stanley Robinson (space is big, and no, lasers don’t make any sound). This episodic novel follows the travels and travails of Nimbus, a young female star traveler and her AI companion, Talamus. Nimbus herself departs her body, both to be reconstituted in new bodies grown by Talamus and populated with recordings of her memories and in more mystical ways as well. Dominant themes include the nature of identity for those who frequently cross cultures, wanderlust, and the nature of the soul. This is a must-publish book.

For rights inquiries, contact Owen.

English samples available upon request.

Authors’ Synopsis (Sample Available)
(Spoiler Alert!)

Nimbus

Humanity splintered as it colonized space. Isolated by vast distances and a lack of communications, every colony is left on its own, developing in a distinct direction. Journeys between the stars last centuries, and the technology used to make those journeys is unreliable and expensive.

Still, she can’t help but go.

Nimbus is a story about love, the love of Nimbus, a millenia-old young woman, for space. Even though technology has made her body nearly immortal, her mind remains human, eternally inquisitive. As a companion and friend, she has Talamus, a sentient information system, a digital polymath, who travels with Nimbus wherever she goes.

Synopsis

Part I

And God Wove Rugs of Her Own Hair [LFT 200, Earth] (PDF Sample)

Nimbus and Talamus arrive again at a planet where they visited nearly two thousand years ago. After their departure, the “Great Maelstrom” destroyed most of the population, leaving only one family behind: a mother, two daughters, and one son. The entire contemporary population of the planet are descendants of this family, whom they believe to be gods. The arrival of Nimbus gives rise to unexpected difficulties when it comes out that she met the gods on her previous visit. After being kidnapped, escaping, and inadvertently performing a miracle, Nimbus meets a historian and donates to him a picture of their god and the rugs she wove out of her own hair.

Like Humans Do [HD 20280, Kandahar] (Sample Available)

On the planet of Kandahar, Nimbus and Talamus travel to see the unexplained ancient structures located in the deserts and the enigmatic beings called Staubers. As a result of an accident, Nimbus and one of the Staubers are thrust into a situation where they have to work together to survive. The two intelligences, so foreign to each other, form a fleeting connection, but the mystery of the Staubers remains unsolved.

Still Dark

A young man wakes up in an unfamiliar place, lacking senses or body. A being named Talamus has awakened him. It turns out that he is a copy, a computer simulation of a man who no longer exists. The world he remembers has disappeared long ago, but he is now presented with the opportunity to travel to the stars.

Journey to Reforma [Tau-3 Eridani, 5] (Sample Available)

Nimbus is driving across an airless plain, traveling toward the outpost of Reforma. After her vehicle breaks down, Nimbus receives help from a miner family living nearby. While her repairs are being done, Nimbus becomes acquainted with the day-to-day life of a family living in the harsh planetary  environment. The stories of the wife, Tamadhur, also teach her of their joys.

The First Winter

A story about Nimbus adjusting to life in a world where there is no Talamus, no ship to reach the stars, and no assurance that all she has experienced was nothing but an illusion.

A Short Trip to the End of the Universe [EGM 635, Khalida]

EGM 635 is a red dwarf, eons old. The people inhabiting the planet and space station orbiting it have disappeared. While investigating their inexplicable disappearance on the surface of the planet, Nimbus dies. She awakens in a disintegrating body and continues on her way, trying to return to her ship. Eventually understanding that she should relinquish her withering body, Nimbus finally finds the missing people, and learns of their fate.

The Eye of God [GL 95, Pleias, Alcyone]

An unemployed Nimbus is spending her time on an old space dock, where she has become acquainted with two space trash collectors. Even though she doesn’t realize it, Nimbus has developed feelings for the younger man, Markus.

The trash collectors receive an urgent assignment and need Nimbus’ help. During the job, Markus dies. Crushed with sorrow, Nimbus travels to Markus’ home asteroid to report what happened. Nimbus is accepted as part of the clan, as Markus’ wife, and Nimbus stays to live with them.

Part II

The Owner Returns [Kappa Fornacis, Neu Holiday Land]

Nimbus, newly resurrected after living out a full life in the asteroids, arrives in a system she had previously visited, intending to liquidate a company she founded on one of the planets. Nimbus and Talamus had created another sentient information system and left him in charge of the company. Leading the now gigantic corporation by using alternating false names, he has utilized the resources of the company to expand himself into space. Nimbus and Talamus persuade the system to shut himself off, and then seize control of the company. Nimbus now owns an entire state and its million and a half residents.

For Love of Space [Kappa Fornacis, Sarawak]

Nimbus goes to get acquainted with Avalon, the corporate state she now owns. A world where even people are marketable goods is foreign to her, and the role of owner does not suit the space traveler. Nimbus meets a man with whom she gradually begins to fall in love, and the experience is new and confusing.

It turns out that Avalon’s main area of expertise is biotechnology. One of their research topics is life extension technology. Because there aren’t any animals on the planet, tests are carried out on humans grown in tanks, on children. To put a stop to this, Nimbus orders all of the cultured bodies destroyed and hands over the technology contained in her own ship that allows her own body to be replaced.

A neighboring state initiates a military takeover. In order to save everyone from the war, Nimbus sells her company to Sterndeuter, the strongest company in the star system. It turns out that the owner of Sterndeuter is the same sentient information system that Nimbus and Talamus thought had died. Through a network of megacorporations, he has grown into a power that directs the life of the entire star system. With the acquisition of immortality technology, he has achieved his final wish, and Nimbus and Talamus realize that their previous actions had more serious consequences than they had suspected.

Construction is begun on a new interstellar ship for Nimbus. Although Nimbus would have the opportunity for happiness and love if she were to stay, she still has to leave. Space and the stars are her home, and her love.

This is Finland / Tatun ja Patun Suomi

Otava Publishing. 2007. 48 pages. In 5th printing.

This is a children’s book written and illustrated by Aino Havukainen and Sami Toivonen (2007). It was awarded the 2007 Finlandia Prize for Children’s Literature. The artwork is pure genius–it captures contemporary Finnishness like few things I’ve seen. Even visiting Finland probably won’t give you nearly as intimate a look into what is important to Finns both in terms of where they’ve come from historically and what modern life is about. And it’s hilarious.

Sample pages:

Finnish oddities, Part 1: Sauna
Finnish oddities, Part 2: Rye bread
Tatu as Santa Claus

Article in Books from Finland (see links at left).

My article on the work of translating This is Finland.

Suomalainen.com bookstore listing.

The Girl and the Jackdaw Tree / Tyttö ja naakkapuu

Tammi, 2004.
48 pages.

Written by Riitta Jalonen and illustrated by Kristiina Louhi.

From Tammi foreign rights brochure:

A memory never ends

The Girl and the Jackdaw Tree describes a turning point in a little girl’s life, the unavoidable changes caused by her father’s death. Her thoughts and feelings relate a sensitive story – with the child pondering the happenings of her life under a tall tree. The tree is known as a Jackdaw tree as a flock of these big birds frequently nest in the safety of its branches. The girl knows how the tree must feel when the jackdaws suddenly take flight and disappear into the distance, leaving the tree on its own, missing the birds. Memories of her father arise as pictures before her eyes.

In Kristiina Louhi’s illustrations these memories fly. The images manage to convey such a scale of emotions and feelings that they can almost be tasted. They glow with the same intensity as Riitta Jalonen’s story: from descriptions of brief moments to greater ones, revealing a unique and wholesome story – a child’s magic world in which joy and sorrow are both present.

Riitta Jalonen — The Girl and the Jackdaw Tree — Translation Sample — Extract (PDF)
(A full-length illustrated translation sample is available upon request)

The Servant of Dusk / Hämärän renki

Tammi, 2009.

YA fantasy from Sari Peltoniemi. Sample translation with rough translation help from John C. Alleman.

PDF Sample

Sari’s website

A short blurb at Finnishwriters.com

Vesta-Linnea’s Darkest Thought / Vesta-Linnea mieli mustana

Tammi, 2008

Nominated for the Finlandia Junior Prize!

Written by Tove Appelgren and illustrated by Salla Savolainen

From Ahlbäck Agency foreign rights guide:

Vesta-Linnea feels like her mother always takes her little sister’s side over hers, and she is suddenly very certain that no one in the family really loves her. Will anything disperse her darkest thoughts?

Tove Appelgren & Salla Savolainen — Vesta-Linnea’s Darkest Thought — Sample Translation (PDF)

(A full-length translation with images is available upon request)

Blurb at Books from Finland

Thirty More Years / Kolmekymmentä vuotta

Short story by science fiction author J. Pekka Mäkelä. Originally published in Tähtivaeltaja 1/2009.

Full translation

J. Pekka Mäkelä at FinnishWriters.com

J. Pekka Mäkelä’s website

Karsta listed in Locus Magazine review of international science fiction 2009

J. Pekka Mäkelä has four smashing science fiction novels ready to be translated! Info

Kitten and Sloppy / Kissa Killi ja Sottapytty

Tammi, 2009

Written by Tuula Korolainen. Illustrated by Christel Rönns.

From Tammi/Elina Ahlbäck Agency foreign rights guide:

Kitten’s mum is upset feeling she has to clean up after everyone else in the
family. And as if that wasn’t enough. Sloppy jumps out of the mirror – a little,
sloppy cat who looks just like Kitten. And boy, can Sloppy make a mess! He storms
from room to room putting everything in disarray, even pasting the walls with jam.
Kitten gets carried away with the mess-making, fi nding how much fun it can be.
But when Sloppy transforms the vacuum cleaner into a blower, and breaks Kitten’s
Rat Castle, little Kitten gets anxious. His old friend Brownie has to come help keep
the peace with his magic.

Tuula Korolainen — Kitten and Sloppy — Sample Translation

Sample Excerpt with Images

Tammi/Ahlbäck Agency rights guide

Butterfly Path / Perhosten polku

Tammi, 2010.

Written and Illustrated by Virpi Penna.

Virpi Pena — Butterfly Path — Sample Translation

Buttery Fly Path Images Sample

Swift Moments Slowly Woven / Hitaasti kudotut nopeat hetket

Otava, 2006.

Finnish author Olli Jalonen’s doctoral dissertation on the creative process and association. I translated the English summary, which was also published in revised form in Books from Finland (3/06).

Olli Jalonen at Transcript

Entry at Books from Finland

The Animals’ World / Eläinten maa

Annexus Oy 2010

Written and illustrated by Marsa Pihlaja.
Translated by Owen F. Witesman

Environment-themed poems with eye-popping illustrations.

Sample from Annexus Publishing

Mother / Äiti

Forthcoming. Annexus Oy.

This is a book of mother-themed children’s poetry. More info when it goes to press!

Moths of Hades / Tuonenkehrääjät

Tammi, 2010.

By Hannu Hirvonen.

From the Tammi/Elina Ahlbäck Agency 2010 Rights Guide

The cat raised its head and rubbed its cheek against Mii’s hand.
‘We can get out of here with the help of a cat. Maybe.’
‘How so?’ the boy asked.
‘I don’t know. But it may be the only way. Only a cat can walk on both sides.’

In the beginning everything seems like an exciting dream to Mii. She sees a beautiful little city rising out of nothing. She sets off to look at the investigate. There are people standing around in every alley and on every street corner. The feeling is like in a ship terminal—lots of people waiting to leave for a trip. Little by little everything new and exciting becomes somehow sad and oppressive. What has happened to Mii’s parents? What has happened to Mii herself? And who are the black figures everyone is avoiding? Then Mii notices a boy in the crowd with hair sticking out ridiculously in every direction and big headphones on his ears. As the moon goes down, Mii and the boy, who looks like a stray dog, decide to try to escape together from the strange city. But that’s easier said than done…

The Dark Line Series introduces nail-biting thrillers and horror stories for young people. We dare you to step up to the Dark Line!

Hannu Hirvonen — Moths of Hades — Translation Sample (PDF)

The Sands of Sarasvati / Sarasvatin hiekkaa

The Sands of Sarasvati by Risto Isomaki

Risto Isomäki

Tammi Publishers. 2008. 72 pages.

Collaborative translation with Lola Rogers. I handled the final translation and editing.

The original is a graphic novel based on the novel of the same name by Risto Isomäki (2005).

Review at forbiddenplanet, with images.

Another review.

Suomalainen.com bookstore listing

The Sands of Sarasvati by Risto Isomäki (graphic novel)

The Sands of Sarasvati by Risto Isomäki (graphic novel)

The Sands of Sarasvati by Risto Isomäki (graphic novel)


Also by this author:

The Sands of Sarasvati (novel version)

Hiding Places / Piiloutujan maa

Aspasia Books. 2008. 109 pages.

This is a themed set of short stories by Petri Tamminen (Otava 2002). The starting point is the impulse toward seclusion–the original title is literally “land of the hider”.

PDF Sample

Article by Soila Lehtonen in Transcript.

Some of the pieces from the book were also previously translated by my colleague David Hackston and can be read in the Books from Finland archive here.

A Fool’s Paradise / Hullun taivaassa

Dalkey Archive Press. 2006. 133 pages.

A novel by Anita Konkka (1988). This was a retranslation of a rough translation done by Agatha Haun.

From Publishers Weekly:

The querulous, nameless, love-weary narrator of Konkka’s 1988 novel might have emerged from a Jim Jarmusch film: in her late 30s, recently unemployed, her engagement broken off and in love with an unavailable man, the narrator is a cerebral, dreamy observer of the flotsam of life as she sits at the base of her favorite pine tree writing in a blue notebook. She imagines the lives of people she sees, diligently records her dreams and childhood memories that intrude in the narrative like non sequiturs, and dabbles in astrology, which underscores that “everything has some diabolical purpose.” When her lover, Alexander, goes back to his wife, Vera, a Russian woman who reminds the narrator of capricious characters in Dostoyevski, the narrator grows obsessively jealous, invents an elaborate scenario between husband and wife, and, confronting her status as a castoff, muses darkly about the inequitable relations between men and women. This is Konkka’s first work to be translated into English. As rendered here, her prose is wonderfully cadenced and vivid; it establishes her nameless character as a memorable figure—not quite a cynic and not completely a sensualist, and none the wiser through experience.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Overeducated, unemployed, recently dumped, and depressed, the 38-year-old nameless narrator is a familiar American character, except she’s Finnish. It is the 1980s, her married Russian lover has recently left her, and the narrator compulsively writes in her journal as she tries to put her life back together. Obsessed with omens, astrology, dreams, fortune-tellers, and other objects of the paranormal, the narrator is both funny and morose. Konkka does a masterful job of making the narrator’s internal romantic turmoil mirror the political turmoil in post-Communist Europe. Some political allusions seem to be lost in translation, but with references to writers from Lao Tzu to Yeats, Konkka’s crisp prose and understated humor transcend cultural limitations.

Marta Segal
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Interview with Anita Konkka.

A review.

Amazon listing.

Aidan and Sophie / Aatos ja Sofia

Tammi, 2010.

Written by Riitta Jalonen and illustrated by Kristiina Louhi.

From the Tammi/Elina Ahlbäck Agency foreign rights guide:

Aidan and Sophie are 8- and 9-year-old friends. This book
is a sweet story of summer, closeness, games, adventures
– and of first love, from a boy’s perspective.

Through small, delicate details Riitta Jalonen communicates
the strong emotions of childhood. Kristiina Louhi’s warm and
inventive illustrations bring the magical realm of childhood
handy.

Riitta Jalonen — Aidan and Sophie — Translation Sample PDF

The Hurricane Detective Club // Etsiväkerho Hurrikaani

Tammi, 2009.

The Hurricane Detective Club and the Guardians of the Star Triangle (Etsiväkerho Hurrikaani ja tähtikolmion vartijat) by Jari Mäkipää.

The Hurricane Detective Club returns to school after a hectic summer vacation. The fall begins strangely when Principal McBride doesn’t show up for work. The club sets out to investigate the principal’s strange disappearance. The think it must have something to do with a strange symbol, the star triangle, a mystery the sleuths have tried to solve before.

As they investigate the star triangle, Jesse, Jenny, Caroline, and Matthias descend deeper into the dark secrets of Alder Ridge. Where has McBride disappeared to? What lurks behind the heavy steel doors in the cave? And is someone else trying to untangle the mystery of the star triangle?

The Hurricane Detective Club and the Guardians of the Start Triangle continues the exciting adventures of four young detectives. A hysterical supporting cast of old and new characters also comes along for the ride, including Anita Roquefort, and the strange master of comedy, Barry Buckshot.

From the Tammi/Elina Ahlbäck Agency Rights Guide:

This wonderful series began in 2004 with the publication of the Hurricane Detective Club Handbook. This fun guide gives useful tips to all budding detectives from setting up your own club to different disguises and secret codes. Jari Mäkipää has since written six detective novels, in which the four founding members of the original Hurricane Detective Club have adventures and amusing mishaps while solving mysterious incidents at their school.

Mäkipää, Jari – The Hurricane Detective Club and the Guardians of the Star Triangle — Sample Translation (PDF)


The Book of Life / Elämänkirja

Tammi, 2006.

Elämänkirja by Esko-Pekka Tiitinen.

From the Elina Ahlbäck Agency/Tammi Publishing foreign rights guide:

The Book of Life is a refined, yet intense novel about Marja, a 17-year-old girl,
and the summer during which she has to let go of her old home and way of life.

Esko-Pekka Tiitinen — The Book of Life — Translation Sample (PDF)

I was seventeen then.

When I called out from the edge of the field, the cows stood up from resting and followed after me. I could have walked with them even as far as the village; I could have made my cows stand in the middle of the road, made them moo true culture at the residents of Shallows; I could have gotten my cows to ruminate on the football field, but I led them to the barn where each in turn donated its milk to the tank. The udders gave nourishment: milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream. I was, with the cows, an important part of the food chain.

I was very aware and proud of my necessity.

We lived in the village of Shallows, in the eastern heartland, right where the fells began to rise up all around like great walls. To me those walls were safe and protective. Eighteen columns of smoke rose between the fells; from my window I could see everyone’s fields and houses. On cold winter nights I looked down into the valley and could see the lights in each living room. They would be extinguished one after another. I was the last awake.

In the village of Shallows I tried to achieve the level of sensitivity that animals have, and I succeeded. I felt like my hearing had become as sensitive as a dog’s, my eyes became as sensitive as an owl’s, and my skin, like the crust of the earth, could feel the changing of the weather.

I saw. I was compelled to see, but it was a pleasant compulsion. Such a beautiful landscape could not but be admired. And the darkness of the evenings! It was beautiful. Dangerously beautiful to others who had become numb to everything, who had gotten used to getting up and going to their beds dreaming of trips abroad, of stone-free fields, dreaming of something that they could not see with their eyes.

To me it was precisely seeing that was most important. No one knew that in my eyes this landscape was the only reality I believed in, the landscape I loved. And although it was the same landscape every day again and again, I never tired of it.

After the last lights were extinguished, I was alone. And I saw even more. I saw behind the darkness and in that reality moved wolves, bears, hares, and the lynx. And when I stood in the darkness in the yard of our home and listened, I heard the frigid cold snapping a limb in two and the snow crunching under my feet, but I also heard myself saying things to myself that I could not tell anyone about:

I was told:

“You have the spirit of the land, the spirit of silence; stay here; this is your place.

Dictionary of Happiness

Petri Tamminen

Visa Infinite. 3 (2005): 72-73.

Based on an unpublished original short work by Petri Tamminen. This was an amusing project since both Petri and I are quite sure we will never be the sort of people who qualify for this credit card or afford anything advertised in the magazine.

Visa Infinite PDF

Hayhat, Feltslipper and the Big Bang / Heinähattu, Vilttitossu ja suuri pamaus

Cover of original CD

Kapsäkki Opera and Theatre Company.

A tintamaresque children’s opera by Sinikka and Tiina Nopola featuring their Heinähattu and Vilttitossu characters. I translated the songs lyrics for performance in the US.

The Altar Stone / Uhrikivi

Journal of Finnish Studies 7:1 (Aug 2003).

A short story by Hannu Raittila, from the collection Miesvahvuus (1999).

PDF

The Parson’s Family / Papin perhe

Brigham Young University Theses (2001).

A play by Minna Canth (1891). This was done as my undergraduate senior project. My first lengthy translation project.

You may access my full translation of the play using the following link just so long as you realize this was my first translation ever! (Also, it was originally done in Word Perfect, so there are some very, very slight oddities in the file as a result of bringing it into the modern world, as it were).

The Parson’s Family by Minna Canth (Papin perhe — 2001 Translation) (PDF)

Invisible Pictures of Non-existent Objects

Mox Mäkelä/Finnish Public Radio (YLE).

Näkymättömiä kuvia olemattomista asioista, a radio play by Mox Mäkelä (2004).

Watch this Space

I’m going to use this space to document a few of my hobbies. The big one right now is my garden. In the last two years I’ve planted 24 fruit trees on our property, plus a variety of berry bushes. I’m also doing a vegetable garden.

My other main hobby is mountain biking. Minor hobbies include photography, paintball, mountaineering, and hiking.

Some nautical exploits:

Rowing in Savonlinna in 2003

Boating in Helsinki in 2007

My brother, my dog, and I violating Canadian sovereignty in a canoe in 2006

Sample Translations

The sample translations posted on this website all represent books for which the authors are seeking foreign publication, unless otherwise noted. All material is copyrighted by the respective authors, illustrators, and translators. Nothing here may be published without permission and it should not be assumed that the sample translation represents the final form in which a translation would be published. Please contact me or the listed foreign rights representative for more information.

Enjoy!

Vox Bloody Populi

Illustration: Joonas Väänänen

Yet another old Books from Finland translation of a Jyrki Lehtola column.

How does it sound, the people’s voice? Loud and sometimes clear perhaps, but, as columnist Jyrki Lehtola finds, more often than not shrill and puerile.

Link

Pleased to See Me?

Illustration: Joonas Väänänen

Last of my old Jyrki Lehtola translations for Books from Finland:

When the Finnish media developed a crush on the country’s foreign minister, writes Jyrki Lehtola, no one could foresee the consequences. Especially if the object of their affections might begin to believe what they say about him…

Link

Tatu and Patu’s Amazing Alphabet // Tatun ja Patun Oudot aakkoset

Tatu and Patu's Amazing Alphabet

Otava, 2009

From the Otava Foreign Rights website:

The alphabet is led down memory lane with the boys from Oddsville, where there’s plenty of whacky humour and earth-shaking revelations about the crazy life they’ve lived! With an extra bonus letter: the mark of Oddsville!

Tatu and Patu find a box in the attic brimming with old photos and mementoes of years gone by.

The box is a true cornucopia: there are pictures of their trip to Barbados, a shot of the curling club disco, and one of the Christmas market in Järvenpää. They’ve even made their way into pictures from newspapers and mail-order catalogues. They also find Patu’s messed-up pose from the passport photo booth among the stash.

Included along the way are familiar adventures from the past, like a group photo of the Esikko day care and a series of documentary pictures of what happened when Tatu and Patu went on a picnic with Veera.

At the very bottom of the box is a picture of Oddsville, the place they were born in, but what a shame, the picture is badly worn…

The story of the successful rise to popularity of Aino Havukainen and Sami Toivonen’s picture books reached a peak when their book This is Finland won the Finlandia Junior Prize in 2007.

They have also received the 2001 Rudolf Koivu Prize and the 2006 Kaarina Helakisa Award, and their book Tatu and Patu in Helsinki was nominated for the Finlandia Junior in 2003. Other adventures of the celebrated brothers from Oddsville can be found in Tatu and Patu’s Oddball Bedtime Book, Tatu and Patu Go to Work, Tatu and Patu’s Mad Machines, Tatu and Patu at the Kindergarten, as well as the four Veera books.

Havukainen and Toivonen have also published two collections of their Home Truths comics for grown-ups.

The rights to the Tatu and Patu books have been sold in more than 10 countries, to publishers such as Kaisei-sha (Japan), Édition Glénat (France), Rabén & Sjögren (Sweden) ja Thinemann (Germany).

Finding even two pages in this one that could be translated sensibly was a challenge, for obvious reasons!

The Letter B

The Letters C and D



See also:

Tatu and Patu’s This is Finland (Published)

Tatu and Patu in Helsinki (Forthcoming)

Tatu and Patu’s Adventures in Outer Space (Sample)

Tatu and Patu as Superheroes! (Sample)

Tatu and Patu’s Oddball Bedtime Book (Sample)