Less and less high-quality contemporary world literature is published in Finnish. Relatively many translations are made of English-language works, but very few from other languages. The accessibility of Finnish translations of high-quality world literature has been reduced and the available offering is narrow.
– From the perspective of Finnish literature and culture, it is essential that Finnish readers breathe the same air as the rest of the world. We must have access to the cutting edge of international literature, especially in a way that offers us a native-level understanding of the text. Only then can we consider ourselves the world’s best readers and create world-class literature of our own, states author Karo Hämäläinen, a member of the Finnish Cultural Foundation’s Board of Trustees.
Publishers will be able to apply for the new grant for the first time in the foundation’s March 2022 round of applications, after which it will repeat on an annual basis. The size of the grant will be EUR 5,000–15,000 per work to be translated. The sum total of the Cultural Foundation’s new funding for translating and publishing world literature will be one million euros.
Publishers must identify the works to be translated themselves; they are instructed, however, particularly to seek works from cultures outside of the mainstream Anglosphere. African or Asian literature written directly in English, however, is acceptable.
– We hope that publishers will use the new grant to supplement and enrich their portfolios, and that this will also lead to new opportunities for Finland’s highly skilled translators, Hämäläinen explains.
The grant must always lead to the publication of a printed book; audiobooks are an additional option for the publisher to consider. Applicants must justify the choice of work based not only on its quality but also on the interests of the greater culture-loving public.
The Finnish Cultural Foundation has extensively supported reading in Finland in recent years. The Reading Gifts for Children project has dealt out book bags to all babies born in Finland between 2019 and 2021, with the help of maternity clinics. Meanwhile, more than 200,000 books have been distributed to elementary school libraries in Finland thanks to the Reading Clan projects.