Many people ask me for recommendations on Finnish translated fiction. Since the explosion of the Nordic Noir genre, readers are particularly interested in similar books to Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, or the Norwegian Detective Harry Hole series by Jo Nesbo, or even something like the Swedish Wallander series.
Naturally there are several books I could recommend, but the problem is that many of my favourite authors are not translated into English. Alternatively, the translations take so long that the novels seem out of date when they're published into English. In the crime genre, in particular, the police procedures etc. change very quickly, making the Finnish novels seem out of touch and old-fashioned when they finally come out in English.
Traditionally Finnish fiction is first translated into Swedish, and some of the other Nordic and Baltic languages, and then into German. English-language versions have to wait for years, or are never published. This has always seemed perverse to me; after all the English-language market is huge, and with the surge in interest in Nordic fiction, to me it would seem natural that this market would be a prime focus for Finnish publishers.
But, now it seems there's good news. This is from the press release of the Finnish Literature Exchange, FILI. FILI has the job of promoting Finnish literature around the world.
FILI focuses on exporting literature to the English-speaking world
A giant leap for translation rights sales figures took place during the preparations for the Frankfurt Book Fair, at which Finland was the Guest of Honour. The German markets have functioned as a gateway to other language areas, and interest is a particular challenge in the English-language markets, on which FILI is focusing its next three-year major project.
In the United States and the United Kingdom we are focusing on local publishers, the training of new translators, and the promotion of published translations in conjunction with our local partners.
FILI continues to function as a mediator of professional contacts: we take part in trade fairs and invite foreign publishers to Finland to acquaint them with Finnish literature. We also act as a home base for Finnish literary translators, and one of our more important tasks is to find more translators in the various language areas.
Let's hope this new push to increase exports of Finnish literature to the English-speaking world will increase titles of my favourite authors from Finland in the future.