Destination Unknown
'The act of writing represents an attempt to chart a position on a voyage whose destination is unknown.'

Soila Lehtonen
Books from Finland

For me, the fascination of contemporary literature lies in the writer's ability to look at the world through the eyes of, say, Sleeping Beauty, a chimera, Hansel and Gretel, or a young man who keeps searching for good hiding-places in this chaotic society. In the third example reality and fantasy melt together, making it possible for me to compare my own real-life experiences to this suggestion of what-if.

I have been combing literature for twenty years in search of original writing. What the readers of Transcript are now able to read is a small sample of this pursuit from recent years, first published in translation in Books from Finland, a non-profit English-language literary journal. My co-editors and I look for material that reflects change in the world, and in people's lives, which becomes visible in writing. We also attempt to transfer it into literature also in a language that is widely understood elsewhere. The act of writing represents an attempt to chart a position on a voyage whose destination is unknown. The samples selected represent, I hope, a sort of literary biodiversity.

Finns write either in Finnish or in Swedish - approximately six per cent of the population speak Swedish as their mother tongue. Of the authors included here, Susanne Ringell and Thomas Warburton write in Swedish. The texts - by writers born between 1918 and 1971 - include short, capricious stories, and even shorter ones verging on the absurd, and extracts from a peculiar memoir of a childhood, written like a long poem. The chimera I mentioned, created by Leena Krohn, is a product of future gene-manipulation - part goat, part wolf, part ape and part human. Fantasy, imagination and paradox are what I personally have wanted to favour in this selection.

However, in every sample the contemporary world is reflected or criticised, and change is a theme woven into the fabric of the writing.

In her article about writing in and about the contemporary world, the writer and medical doctor Veronica Pimenoff also takes a look at the power of imagination: 'In writing and reading literature one gives the world the sack and leaves it to its own devices and becomes intoxicated by the experience of moving in another world'. It is this intoxication, and the feeling of being on a journey, that create the joy of reading.


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