Found in Translation Book Group

Found in Translation is a book group which has been meeting every month at Central Library for the past 5 years. They are a diverse group spanning many nationalities, backgrounds and careers. They come from different parts of the world: USA, Bulgaria, Italy, Poland and Scotland. They read and discuss English translations of fiction from around the world. Every book takes them on a literary and cultural journey to a different country.

Since libraries closed in March, the group wasn’t able to meet for their monthly discussions. They decided to move their meetings into the virtual world and discuss their books via a video conferencing app. So far they have read and discussed ‘Year of the Hare’ by Arto Paasilinna, a Finnish classic, ‘This Little Art’ by Kate Briggs (book on the practice of literary translation) and the Man Booker International Prize winner ‘Celestial Bodies’ by Jokha Alharthi. They were able to listen to ‘Celestial Bodies’ as an audio book available to any Edinburgh Libraries member on RBdigital through the Edinburgh Libraries website.

Since last year they have been in touch with a Finnish book group in Iisalmi as part of a new partnership between Edinburgh and Iisalmi Libraries in Finland,  part of the NAPLE Sister Libraries Programme. They were planning to have a Skype discussion with the book group in Finland and talk about ‘Year of the Hare’. Unfortunately, due to lockdown that had to be postponed. Found in Translation decided to have a chat about the book during their first virtual meet up in May. 

Photos of members of the Found in Translation Book Group

Members of the Found in Translation Book Group

Here are some of their thoughts on ‘Year of the Hare’:

“I thought the idea behind this book was really interesting and intriguing but some of the actual incidents were barely credible though I did get a feel of both the countryside and the Finnish rather dark humour.” Agnes

“This 1975 picaresque novel by the Finnish author Arto Paasilinna, translated into English by Herber Lomas in 1995, feels very pertinent in 2020. It almost anticipates the moment of multiple crises we find ourselves today. The novel calls for repositioning of our values, of readressing of our work and life balance, of challenging authorities and systemic discriminations. The hare emerges as the symbol of our environmental hope.” Iliyana

“I really enjoyed reading “A Year with a Hare” and found it a great romp through the backwoods of Finland. It turned out to be a book version of the Tardis from Dr. Who, containing multitudes and providing endless adventures within a pretty small volume.” Ana

It was National Reading Group Day on Saturday 20 June, promoted by the Reading Agency. The Found in Translation book group joined in the online discussion and shared what they love about their group.  Sam, one of the members said:

“What I like about the group the most is being exposed to texts that I never would have read otherwise, and exploring new cultures through the translations we read. It’s the only way to travel right now.”

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