16 February 2005

Leena Krohn

I'm putting the finishing touches on an interview I just did with Finnish writer Leena Krohn for SF Site, where there will also be a review I wrote of Krohn's recently-translated novel Tainaron: Mail from Another City, a novel that Jeff VanderMeer put on his Best of 2004 list -- one of six titles along with such well-known books as China Mieville's Iron Council and Philip Roth's The Plot Against America. (Jeff also wrote about it at his blog.)

At first, it was Tainaron's length that sold me on it: 124 pages. I've been quite busy over the past two months, and haven't had nearly as much time to read anything as I like to have, but 124 pages (including illustrations and blank pages) is something I can do in a few days, even when life is at its most hectic. So I did.

And then, immediately, I read the book again. It's that good -- better, in fact, on a second reading than a first. (I'm afraid you'll have to wait till my SF Site review to find out exactly why I think so, though.)

Leena Krohn is an innovative and in some ways challenging writer, but her language is tremendously accessible, her imagery vivid and rich. Tainaron is, I gather, similar to what she calls her other "sort-of novels" in that it is made up of many small, independent pieces that intersect like pieces of a mosaic, forming a whole that is coherent without being entirely linear. I was not surprised, in fact, when she told me she felt influenced by, among other things, Edgar Lee Masters's Spoon River Anthology.

While not much of Krohn's work has been translated into English, a fact I hope changes soon, there are a few pieces in English on the internet, and I'll list them at the end of this post. She has only had one other book published in English -- two novels published as one, actually, by Carcanet, a British publisher (the book, Doña Quixote and Other Writings, seems most easily available in the U.S. through Barnes & Noble). Having now interviewed her, I'm quite interested to read some of her more recent work, particularly Pereat Mundus and Unelmakuolema ("Dreamdeath"). With luck, those of us who are stuck reading everything in English will eventually have a chance to read much more of Krohn's unique and beautiful writing.

Leena Krohn on the Internet

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