The World SF Blog

Speculative Fiction from Around the World

Johanna Sinisalo sells new novel

Via Sinisalo’s agent:

We are thrilled to announce that the World English rights to Johanna Sinisalo‘s award-winning novel The Blood of Angels (Enkelten verta, Teos 2011) have been sold to Sinisalo’s UK publisher Peter Owen. The French rights of The Blood of Angels are sold to Actes Sud for publication in 2013.

Johanna Sinisalo’s first novel, Not Before Sundown (Ennen päivänlaskua ei voi,Tammi 2000), was awarded the Finlandia Prize for literature and the James Tiptree JrAward in 2004. Rights have been sold in over 10 territories thus far. Birdbrain(Linnunaivot, Teos 2008) was published in English by Peter Owen, in Norwegian by Vega and in French by Actes Sud to brilliant reviews. The Guardian newspaper and Publisher’s Weekly both lifted it to their recommendations lists, while in France the book was nominated for the Prix Escapades 2012.

All in all, Johanna Sinisalo’s works have been translated into 14 languages, including English, German, Albanian, Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, French, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Slovak, Slovenian and Swedish.

Johanna Sinisalo is also one of the screenwriters of the comic science fiction action film Iron Sky (Energia Productions, 2012).

February 11, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Comments Off

Finnish Science Fiction and Fantasy: Johanna Sinisalo, Hannu Rajaniemi, and Moomins

Over at Amazon’s Omnivoracious blog, Jeff VanderMeer profiles Johanna Sinisalo, Hannu Rajaniemi, and interviews Jukka Halme. Here’s an excerpt:

Supported by that community, a number of unique Finnish writers are appearing on the scene—several of whom have been or will soon be translated into English. Two of the most prominent for readers in English this year are Johanna Sinisalo and Hannu Rajaniemi, both of whom, Halme notes, just happen to hail from the same village in Finland.

Sinisalo, whose Birdbrain was published this April in the U.S., is a well-known figure in Finland, where she’s written teleplays, screenplays, and been involved in a stunning number of different creative projects. Including Birdbrain on my top 10 fantasy novels list for Locus Online, I wrote, “This slow-burn of a novel relates the story of Finns Jyrki and Heidi as they hike through the wilderness of Tasmania and New Zealand. Sinisalo immerses the reader in the physicality of the trek, and the increasing isolation of the hikers…the atmosphere created is exciting and the trip fascinating to watch play out. When the fantastical element finally enters the story it’s all the more effective because of the careful way in which Sinisalo has brought the reader to that point.”

Rajaniemi is a new writer whose first novel The Quantum Thief has taken the United Kingdom by storm. Described as “a crazy joyride through the solar system several centuries hence,” the novel is published this month by Tor, amid excited buzz. Halme told me that the novel has been just as popular in Finland as in the U.K., and gained a lot of legitimacy for science fiction in his country. Indeed, Rajaniemi wrote his novel in English, meaning it had to be translated into Finnish for publication in his home country. Although not many Finnish authors do self-translate, most do read in English, as it is a widely used language.

May 5, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Comments Off

Beastly Bride interviews: Sinisalo, Narayan

Over at SF Signal, Charles Tan has been interviewing the contributors to new Ellen Datlow anthology Beastly Bride – including Indian writer Shweta Narayan and Finnish writer Johanna Sinisalo.

From the Sinisalo interview:

CT: What is it about the Finnish epic Kalevala that interests you?

JS: It is quite original compared to many other European epics, because it has such a strong emphasis on our ties with nature. There are a lot of woodland and water deities, magical animals, and the bear is in Finnish mythology almost a semi-god. Kalevala’s heroes and heroines also all seem to have a very humane side – they are not invincible or faultless, quite the opposite. In that aspect they’re quite modern. I have actually written even a whole novel called “Sankarit” (“The Heroes”) in which I converted the main characters and plots of Kalevala to be set in the 1990′s. The sages, magical smiths, adventurers, witches and so on were in my novel rock stars, athletes, computer wizards etc. It was a very fun thing to write.

From the Narayan interview:

Charles Tan: Hi! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. First off, what made you decide to combine Selkie stories with serpent/Naga stories?

Shweta Narayan: I don’t think “decide” is quite the right word. I doubt I could approach a Naga story any other way.

Let me unpack that. I’ve loved snakes since my mother took me to the Madras Snake Park when I was five or so, and I’ve actively looked for Naga images and stories as long as I can remember. But while I am a heritage Tamil speaker, I’m neither fluent nor literate in any language native to the Indian subcontinent, and that leaves my understanding of my “own” folklore pretty sparse.

Most of the tales that I grew up with were from Northern Europe; my parents made an active effort to counter that trend, but the European stories were just easiest to find. And since I read a lot, and we didn’t live near any English-language bookstores till I was twelve, just keeping me in reading material must have been a task!

So Selkie tales were part of my formative reading. And when I was seven or eight, I wasn’t left thinking about the objectification of the Selkie bride and her reasons for leaving, or about the distraught husband. Forget the grownups — I wanted to know what happened to their kids! So that’s a story hook that has been hanging around in my brain waiting to latch onto something for a long time.

I only know three patterns of traditional Naga tales: sentient snake interacts with religious figure, hero goes to the land of the Nagas to gain magic or wisdom, and hero goes to the land of the Nagas to get a bride– and that last lies so close to Selkie stories that I never consciously “combined” the traditions, because they were not really separate in my mind to start out with. It felt obvious that Naga brides would be compelled to stay somehow and would leave as soon as they could.

May 30, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Comments Off

Wednesday Editorial: Who Will you Invite to the World Fantasy Convention?

Editorial: Who Will You Invite to the World Fantasy Convention?

Lavie Tidhar

A short while ago I talked about the World Fantasy Award, and the general lack of the “world” component in its nominations and winners. I briefly discussed the World Fantasy Convention, but it occurs to me it might be worthwhile to go back to it with some constructive suggestions. Scanning the list of guests of honour attending the WFC over the years (, I am struck by the almost total absence of guests who could be termed “world sf” writers. Perhaps amusingly, the 1984 WFC had “Fantasy: An International Genre” as its theme. The guests?

Guests of Honor: Tanith Lee, Jane Yolen

Guest Artist: Jeffrey Jones

Toastmaster: Spider Robinson

Chairmen: John Bell, Rodger Turner

International indeed!

Are things changing with the invitation of Serbian writer Zoran Živković for the 2009 convention? Could this event of earth-shattering proportions, almost the first in the convention’s entire history, be a sign of change? Could the World Fantasy Convention ever really be considered to stand up to its name?

Well, here at the WSNB we’re all about positive encouragement, and so, dear members of the WFC board, here are some suggestions for future guests. They may not be American – they may not be British – they may not even (gasp!) be Australian. They might not even write in English! And yet here are some of the world’s greatest fantasy writers – should they not be honoured in the same way?

A note to our readers: please do feel free to suggest additional guests in the comments section. The following is merely a preliminary list.

Sergei Lukyanenko (Russia)

Sergei Lukyanenko needs no introduction. The author of the Night Watch novels is arguably Russia’s best-known and most successful modern fantasy writer. With Night Watch and Day Watch being made into truly superb films, and with English-language publication of Lukyanenko’s novels in the UK and US, he must be at the top of the list.

Andrzej Sapkowski (Poland)

Finally, finally, English-language readers get to sample the delights European readers have known of for a long time. Enter Andrzej Sapkowski, Poland’s most successful fantasy writer, whose The Last Wish was finally translated into English and published by Gollancz in 2007. It was followed by Blood of Elves, also with Gollancz, in 2008 – and won its author his first English-language award (the inaugural Legend Award) the following year.

Diana Chaviano (Cuba)

This Cuban writer, one of the most well-regarded authors of genre fiction in Latin America, is not as easily available in English – 2008’s The Island of Eternal Love being her first novel in that language. It has been described as “the most translated Cuban novel of all time”. She was Guest of Honour at the 25th International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts.

Koji Suzuki (Japan)

This Japanese horror writer created the enormously popular Ringu, the novel that gave rise to both the Japanese film of the same name and the American adaptation. His books are widely available in English, including the collection Dark Water and the subsequent novels in the Ring cycle.

Johanna Sinisalo (Finland)

This Finnish writer had the almost unique distinction of being nominated for a Nebula Award, for short story “Baby Doll”. Novel Troll: A Love Story was also published in English. Winner of a Finlandia Award, she was also given a James Tiptree Jr. Award in 2004, edited The Dedalus Book of Finnish Fantasy, and is currently working on a science fiction movie project.

S.P. Somtow (Thailand)

The now-respectable Somtow Sucharitkul, composer and artistic director of the Bangkok Opera, is also the mastermind behind such modern classics as Vampire Junction, Jasmine Nights and “The Bird Catcher”, all as S.P. Somtow. He is unique for not only winning a World Fantasy Award but actually being a guest of honour once before. Educated in the UK, he had lived in the United States for many years before returning to Thailand. He won any number of awards, including the John W. Campbell for Best New Writer, and has recently returned to genre fiction with stories in Asimov’s magazine and plans for a new fantasy series.

Tunku Halim (Malaysia)

Once described as “Malaysia’s Stephen King”, Halim (currently residing in Australia) writes in English, yet his novels and short story collections have only appeared in Malaysia itself. A prolific author, mixing traditional Malay themes with modern, sometimes tongue-in-cheek tropes of horror fiction, he wrote A Children’s History of Malaysia, Juriah’s Song, 44 Cemetery Road and many others.

Ashok Banker (India)

Widely regarded as India’s best-known modern fantasy writer, Banker is also known for his less-than-flattering opinion of Western publishers (see our interview with him earlier on this blog!). Author of the phenomenally successful Ramayana series, he is now published exclusively in India and maintains an active web presence.

December 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Johanna Sinisalo interviewed

Over at the Nebula Awards Blog, Marshall Payne interviews Finnish writer and Nebula nominee Johanna Sinisalo:

Actually, English is not my second but my third language (Swedish is the second) and I have learned English at school like most Finns. I am not fluent enough to write fiction in English, so it’s obvious I’m depending on translators. “Baby Doll” was translated by David Hackston, who is British, but James and Kathy Morrow helped us edit the story to suit the American market (mostly language-wise).

Because in Finland we have just five million inhabitants, it’s crucial to know other languages. In addition to Swedish and English, I can get along with German and French, and I can speak and read even some Italian. For me, I’m often envious that you Americans can go almost anywhere in the world and be understood in your own native language!

I’m very proud of the Nebula nomination, because it seems extremely rare that a translated work gets nominated. As far as I know, there has been only two translated stories nominated for a Nebula before” Baby Doll”, and both of those were by very renowned writers, namely Italo Calvino and Jorge Luis Borges. It’s a tremendous honour to be in that kind of the rest of the interview

August 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 2 Comments



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