Story Spaces: Opening Doors For Finnish Literature in Britain


It has been a busy year for the Institute's Story Spaces literature export programme. During 2009 the Institute created networking opportunities for Finnish and British publishers, researched Finnish literature in the British marketplace, compiled information about the key British publishers and organised a translation competition in order to find talented new translators.

Only a very small portion of the literature published in Britain is translated literature. It is challenging for small language areas such as Finland to break through in the English speaking literary market. The Story Spaces project aims to raise the profile of Finnish literature in Britain leading up to the Frankfurt Book Fair 2014, where Finland has been selected as the 2014 focal theme country. Networking publishers working with foreign rights and creating an open dialogue between international publishers are the crucial tools for getting Finnish literature a strong foothold in the international marketplace.

Opening Doors In November the Institute organised a seminar bringing together Finnish and British publishing professionals to discuss the the best practises in translated literature and the future of Finnish literature in Britain. From Finland, publishers Otava, WSOY, Söderström, Avain and Nemo took part in the seminar. The British publishing houses, poetry-focused Waterloo Press, crime literature publishers Bitter Lemon Press and the publisher of Elina Hirvonen's latest book, Että hän muistaisi saman (When I Forgot), Portobello Books, represented the British angle in the seminar. The seminar gave the Finnish publishers an invaluable opportunity to meet and openly discuss with the British publishers how the UK literary market functions, and the British publishers enjoyed finding out more about new Finnish literature.

The fruits of the translation competition During the Autumn, the Finnish Institute organised a Finnish to English translation competition in collaboration with FILI, the Finnish Literature Export organisation, to find the best up-and-coming translators. The competitors were given a sample from Maritta Lintunen's short story Piinaviikko to translate from Finnish to English. The competition attracted 120 entries from Finland and Britain, and we have now shortlisted three of strongest contestants: Arttu Ahava, Ilona Fogel and Iiris Pursiainen. The Institute and FILI will continue working with the new translators in the coming year.

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