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


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.

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

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!)


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.


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)

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

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

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

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.

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)