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Finnish translations of literature open up the world – €100,000 for eleven new translations
Monta värikästä kirjan kannen kuvaa
Soon we can read more in Finnish by Judith Schalansky, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, and others. Over the course of ten years, the Finnish Cultural Foundation will award a total of one million euros for Finnish translations of contemporary world literature.
Nahkatakkinen nainen keltainen huivi kaulassaan nojailee mustaan seinään.
Judith Schalansky. Photo: Andreas Schmidt

In 2022, the Finnish Cultural Foundation established a new kind of grant whose goal is to translate and make available to Finnish readers world literature especially from languages that are nowadays rarely translated into Finnish.

Over the course of ten years, this grant will provide a total of one million euros, which is enough for translating one hundred high-quality contemporary works of prose, poetry, or essays into Finnish.

Money has now been granted for eleven new Finnish translations of books in Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Polish, French, Swedish, German, and Estonian.

Future translations will include that of Verzeichnis einiger Verluste (An Inventory of Losses, Finnish: Kadotettujen katalogi) by the German writer and graphic designer Judith Schalansky. The book’s texts combine memories, facts, and fiction; are full of anecdotes and free associations; and touch on topics ranging from painting and seafaring to tigers. Schalansky’s books are a synthesis of the arts in which the graphic design is as essential as the text. The publisher of the book is Poesia.

Camila Sosa Villada is one of Argentina’s best known and most widely translated contemporary writers. The publisher S&S will produce Finnish translations of two of her novels, the award-winning Las Malas and a not yet published work. Sosa Villada’s novels use linguistically skilful fictitious stories to present especially the experiences and lives of trans women and trans communities.

Three unpublished but completed manuscripts by Louis-Ferdinand Céline, one of the last century’s most important French writers, disappeared after World War 2 and the occupation of Paris. They were not discovered until 2021. Thanks to the grant for translation of world literature, one of them, Londres, will be published in Finnish by Siltala. It will provide a new perspective on the work of this controversial classic author.

English is the dominant translated language

Books translated from English dominate the Finnish literature translation market. According to the Fennica database, more than half of the literature translations published in Finland in 2022 were from English and almost one fifth were from Swedish.

The Finnish Cultural Foundation supports the translation of literature into Finnish so that Finns can also read books from less familiar cultures in their mother tongue.

“We’ll have a very limited view of the world if we are influenced only by English-speaking countries. If we want to understand what’s happening in the world in general, it’s important to know how people in other countries live and what they think”, says Juhana Lassila, the Finnish Cultural Foundation’s director of grants and cultural affairs.

Both small and large publishers applied for the world literature translation grants for more than 30 books. Most of these books are in a European language.

“The variety of European languages of these books is wonderful. In the future, we hope to be able to support translations of high-quality books from more remote languages too, including African and Asian languages”, Lassila emphasizes.

The Finnish Cultural Foundation has been inspiring Finns to read for a long time already and has supported the success of books and reading in Finland with several million euros. In recent years, for example, parents have been encouraged to read to young children, school libraries have received a variety of books, and books in simplified language and easy to read books have been made available to 13- to 15-year-olds. The financial support for publishers of Finnish translations of world literature is a continuation of these efforts and enables adults to read interesting books originally written in languages that only few Finns understand.

Books published so far with the help of the translation grants can be found on the webpage (in Finnish).

2023 Translating World Literature Grants for publishers

  • Gummerus Publishers for improving publicity for the work Welkom in het Rijk der zieken by the Dutch author Hanna Bervoets, €6,000
  • The literature and culture association Särö for translating and publishing the novel Anna In w grobowcach świata by the Polish author Olga Tokarczuk, €10,000
  • The Otava Publishing Company for translating and publishing the novel De polyglotta älskarna by the Swedish author Lina Wolff, €9,000
  • The Otava Publishing Company for translating and publishing the novel Naturliga beteenden (Luontainen käytös) by the Swedish author Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde, €5,000
  • Siltala Publishing for translating and publishing the novel Londres by the French author Louis-Ferdinand Céline, €15,000
  • The publisher Kosmos for translating and publishing the novel Dschinns (Jinnit) by Fatma Aydemir, €10,000
  • The publisher Kirjasin for translating and publishing poems of the Argentinian poet Alejandra Pizarnik,
  • €6,000
  • The publisher Poesia for translating and publishing the work Verzeichnis einiger Verluste (Kadotettujen katalogi) by the German author Judith Schalansky, €15,000
  • The publisher Enostone for translating and publishing the novel O Diretor by Ana Filomena Amaral, €9,000
  • The publisher Schildts & Söderströms / S&S for translating and publishing the short story collection Väike terav nuga (Pieni terävä veitsi) by Kätlin Kaldmaa, €5,000
  • The publisher Schildts & Söderströms / S&S for translating and publishing two novels by Camila Sosa Villada, €11,000

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