Emily Jeremiah and Fleur Jeremiah unite as a multi-lingual mother and daughter translation team. Emily has an MA in Creative Writing and a PhD in German Studies. Fleur, her mother, is Finnish and has translated both fiction and non-fiction for many years. They have co-operated on translating the poetry of Helvi Juvonen and Sirkka Turkka.

 

Fleur on translating The Brothers: 

As a Finn, I took an instant liking to the book because of its Nordic quality and the way this quality is combined with universal themes. I felt this combination would make it attractive to readers outside Finland, and translating the work would be a wonderful challenge and a way of making Sahlberg accessible to non-Finnish speakers.

And a challenge it proved to be. I began the task by producing a literal translation of the original, grappling with the long sentences and convoluted word orders that are made possible by the Finnish language’s fifteen cases. The result was a comprehensible English text that served as ‘raw material’ for Emily to work with. I believe that the finished product achieves the aim of translating the spirit of this original work.

 

Emily on translating The Brothers

The Brothers is a powerful and atmospheric book. Dense, dark, and poetic, it takes us right into the minds of its characters, who speak to us directly in turn. It is taut and concentrated, but covers years in the lives of its protagonists, also taking in political and historical developments and vividly evoking a bleak, beautiful Finnish landscape. It is a short text, but it feels like a vast, sprawling epic.

One of the key tasks we faced was to hit on a convincing voice for each character. There’s the frank common sense and good humour of the Farmhand, with whose voice the narrative begins. Then there’s the rage and vulnerability of Henrik, which contrasts with the wry resignation of his brother Erik. There’s the dreamy lust of Anna, the woman who comes between them. Finding the right voices for all the characters has been both challenging and exciting.