Author: Mirja Bolgár

Out of the woods

Issue 4/1990 | Archives online, Authors

France has its tradition of conteurs; but storytellers such as Arto Paasilinna (born 1942) are uncommon today. This makes the success of the French translation of his Jäniksen vuosi (‘Year of the hare’; French translation Le Lièvre de Vatanen, Denoel, 1989) all the more surprising. A first edition of 11,000 copies has been printed, and a second is under consideration, while his Ulvova mylläri (‘The howling miller’) is scheduled for publication next, in a translation by Anne Colin du Terrail; then in line is Auta armias (‘Help, O Lord’), and then… Negotiations are also in progress with French book clubs.

What is the secret of Paasilinna’s success in this land of fastidious critics? Humour is not enough, for each country finds different things funny. A whole chain of causes and coincidences needed before Paasilinna achieved both critical and popular success in France, where the best that the best Finnish writers can generally hope for is a slim edition confidentiel. More…