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.



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.