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Odyssey

Once upon a time, not all that long ago, there was an eight-year-old girl in pigtails who was lucky enough to go to the sort of primary school where eight-year-old girls get to play the Goddess Athena in the school

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Posted in books, Folklore, history, poetry, translation

Lu Xun: Jottings under Lamplight

It takes a translator to transport you both ways. Lu Xun’s Jottings under Lamplight, edited by Eileen Cheng and Kirk Denton with a host of other translators, is an extraordinary portrait of an era that I knew almost nothing about… until

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Posted in books, history, translation

Finland 100: Unknown Soldiers

This is one of those books you start reading because you feel you ought to, because everyone tells you you really should, which is actually rather annoying, and you’re pretty sure it’s not your thing, it’s the sort of thing

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Posted in books, Finland 100, history, Suomi 100, translation

1917

It’s a hundred years since the October Revolution. What was it really like at the time, when nobody knew how it would end? Was all the violence worth it? Was a new dawn really breaking? This hugely varied collection of

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Posted in books, history, translation

Finland 100: The oak grove

The civil war that followed hot on the heels of independence is both very present and very absent from Finnish consciousness. It tore families and communities apart and is still difficult to talk about. Earlier this year, someone had the

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Posted in books, Finland 100, history, translation

Finland 100: The Red women

“So then they founded a women’s guard here, and anyhow I’m such an enthusiastic person so of course I went there first […] You can’t believe how enthusiastic I was about going to the front. Now I am going back

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Posted in books, gender, history, translation

The Conference of the Birds

This is extraordinarily beautiful and surprisingly gripping. Translated by a bilingual poet who made the wise decision to sacrifice the rhyme to keep the essences of the story, it sings. As Sholeh Wolpé says, translating medieval Persian into modern English

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Posted in books, faith, history, poetry, translation

Iza’s Ballad

This one is desperately sad, and it stays with you. The Door should have prepared me for more the direct emotion, the weight of history, the unflinching look at how the characters – people more like you and me than we’d care

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Posted in books, gender, history, translation

Wayward heroes

They came from over the North Sea, and took whatever they could get, and taxed us mercilessly for a long time after. But the noble English fought back, swords gleaming, until the dastardly invaders fled back to Europe from whence they

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Posted in books, history, translation

Finland 100: The midwife

At the gate, I remembered the cover. My bookmark slid over it, obscuring the emblem behind the title text. I was about to board the plane to Berlin – and I had to finish this and put it in my bag before

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Posted in books, film, history, Suomi 100, translation
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