Found in Translation: ‘The Brothers’

Review of Finnish novel ‘The Brothers’.

The Oxford Culture Review

This review of ‘The Brothers’ is the first in a review column run by our editor, focusing mainly upon fiction in translation. Reviews won’t be limited to current publications but will also cover classics, particularly Scandinavian fiction.

‘Nothing can move a man once he has seen someone trying to kill his own brother.’

Second only to Iceland in terms of number of books published per capita, Finland is fast gaining a reputation as a distinctly ‘literary’ nation, producer of thought-provoking and intense fiction. Asko Sahlberg’s The Brothers (trans. Emily & Fleur Jeremiah), a 122 page epic set in rural Finland, is no exception to this. It is 1809, and siblings Henrik and Erik have returned from fighting on opposite sides in the Civil War. Every page bristles with tension as unspoken family secrets clamour to reveal themselves in a dark kaleidoscope of cinematic prose.

The brevity of The Brothers is deceptive…

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