Over at the Omnivoracious blog, Jeff VanderMeer continues his coverage of Finnish SF and Fantasy, including a video of Jukka Halme. Here’s an excerpt:
While influence is a two-way exchange, issues of translation are definitely unequal. Many Finns read in English, but most Americans can’t read Finnish. Saara Henriksson’s Moby Doll might have the kind of concept that lends itself to immediate rapport with an English-language reader in a synopsis, but many novels can’t be reduced down to a concept in a meaningful way: they must be experienced in their totality, from page one to the end.
Intriguing titles we couldn’t sample include Anne Leinonen’s latest novel Routasisarukset (The Frost Children)—a collaboration with Eija Lappalainen—which was just published in Finland. It is a dystopic exploration of “individual liberties, constricting power structures, and the possibilities of biotechnology” as seen through the eyes of Utu, a young woman who has “a strange ability to understand ancient abandoned machines.” Over tar ice cream before an event at the Writer’s House in the city of Jyväskylä, Leinonen also told us about another, Kafkaesque novel of hers that sounded even more delicious than what we were eating.
But there are countless other examples of enticement. For example, we love the work of Jyrki Vainonen that we’ve read, including “The Pearl.” His work has a streak of the surreal and the dark that we find irresistible, but the majority of his work remains elusive to English-language readers. Other writers recommended to us include Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen, M.G. Soikkeli, J. Pekka Makela, Essi Kummu, Siri Kolu, Miina Supinen, Jukka Laajarinne, Katja Salminen, Maarit Verronen, and Marko Hautala, so clearly we have more literary investigations to undertake.