Hannu Rajaniemi interviewed by the Guardian

The Guardian has posted a new interview with Finnish writer Hannu Rajaniemi, with a particular focus on writing in English versus Finnish  – fascinating!

It seemed natural to start writing in English, Rajaniemi continues, because it was the language he was speaking in his daily life. There was also no question of getting feedback from the others in the writing group if he was writing in Finnish. But he soon discovered that he had a different personality when he was writing in English – a personality he liked.

“It’s probably a bit of a cliche, but I’m a bit more outgoing in English, whereas in Finnish I tend to be quieter, more reserved,” he says. “It’s maybe because, for me, Finnish is very much a personal language – it’s the language I speak with my very, very close friends and my parents – whereas pretty much my whole professional career, my scientific career and my writing career has been in English, so it’s outward facing.”

Rajaniemi describes Finnish as a language of poetry and song, with great facility for shaping words and making compounds. His English writing style is simpler, a little more pared-down. Reading some of the first few chapters from the Finnish translation, which he says he’d love to have done himself but hasn’t got the time, was a “strange experience … It felt like they had been written by some Finnish evil twin. It was very good Finnish, but not the Finnish I would have written had I done it myself.” – read the full interview.


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