Prose prizes

7 May 2010 | In the news

This year’s Finnish Government Prizes for Literature and Translation have been awarded to, respectively, the writer and journalist (and former Editor-in-Chief of Books from Finland) Kristina Carlson (born 1949) and the translator Tarja Roinila (born 1964). The prizes, which are given on the recommendation of the Finnish National Council for Literature and are worth  €15,000 each, were awarded at a ceremony in Helsinki on 4 May by the Minister of Culture and Sports, Stefan Wallin.

Carlson’s second novel, Herra Darwinin puutarhuri (‘Mr Darwin’s gardener’, Otava), published last autumn, is a taut, deep and rich story narrated by many voices, contrasting science and faith, solitude and community. ‘It is not often that a single work renews the novel form,’ remarked the jury. (We featured an interview with Carlson, as well as an extract from the novel here on the Books from Finland website last September.)

The translator Tarja Roinila has specialised in prose and poetry written in Spanish, French and German; her latest translations, of the linguistically complex novels of the Austrian author Thomas Bernhard, are extremely musical, the jury remarked.

On 4 May, which was celebrated in Finland as the Day of the Book and the Rose (this custom, which originally took place on St George’s Day, April 23, was born in Barcelona: originally men gave women roses, and received books in return), Kristina Carlson received the Kiitos kirjasta (‘Thanks for the book’) medal, awarded jointly by the Booksellers’ Association, the bookshop sales asistants’ association Libro and the Finnish Library Association.

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