Saturday, December 24, 2005
After a year's hard work, how wonderful it is to be able to hold the finished product in my hands! This selection of Finnish fantasy literature (perhaps 'speculative fiction' would be a better term) offers a broad cross-section of writing both new and old, and demonstrates that elements of the fantastical have always existed, even in a body of literature as young as that in Finland.
Dedalus Books publishes an entire series of anthologies of fantasy literature in translation. A friend recently asked me whether there is a market for this kind of book in the UK. Perhaps an anthology of this kind will cross the boundaries between the fantasy / sci-fi readership, and the readership for all things Scandinavian.
My personal favourite is perhaps Pentti Holappa's 'Boman': the story of a talking, literate dog who through sheer power of will grows herself a pair of wings. Holappa's career has been long and varied, and in 1998 he won the Finlandia Prize for his novel 'Ystävän muotokuva' (Portrait of a Friend), a moving depiction of the relationship between two men in the post-war years in Helsinki. 'Boman' dates from 1959, but still I think there is a queer reading to be had. The more I read this text throughout the translation process the more this idea began to make sense to me. I'll read this text again and formulate a more coherent argument over the holidays.