The Edge of Europe
by Pentti Saarikoski
Translated by Anselm Hollo.
Fiction. Poetry. Finnish.
1 September 2007
In the mid-to-late seventies, Saarikoski had withdrawn from the limelight of two decades of being an only too enthusiastic big fish in a small pond. With his partner, Norwegian-Swedish writer Mia Berner, he established himself in an old house on an island just off the west coast of Sweden and cultivated his own backyard in a typically troll-like way, superimposing the rich and various, wild and woolly landscape of his mind on the surrounding countryside with its mountain ridges, petroglyphs, caves, and harbors. Travels along the western “edge of Europe” with sojourns in Stavanger, Norway, Brittany, and Dublin frame his meditations on language(s), places, animals, humans (and their male and female tyrants) in rambling tongue-in-cheek or deadly serious but never earnest prose.
– Anselm Hollo, from the Introduction
Pentti Saarikoski’s The Edge of Europe is one of those novels often imagined but rarely realized: a novel that is as moving as it is funny, a book that is as thoughtful as it is kinetic, as timeless as it is specific to the narrator’s apartment with its entrance hall in Dublin, its living room in Paris, its bedroom in Rome, its office in Budapest, its kitchen in Athens, its sauna in Kerimäki
Anselm Hollo’s translation makes this fluid novel read as though it were written by one of the finest poets in English, not just Finnish, telling a story in language that surprises not just line by line, but often from the start of one sentence to its end, as it effortlessly sweeps across literature, architecture, rusted cars, trees, nations, beer, history, jogging-life-until it finally, in the finest sense of Ulysses, brings us home again.
– Steve Tomasula, author of The Book of Portraiture
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pentti Saarikoski was one of the most important poets in the literary scene of Finland during the 1960s and 1970s. His body of work comprises poetry and translations, among them such classics as Homer’s Odyssey and James Joyce’s Ulysses.
ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR
Anselm Hollo authored more than forty books and was an award-winning translator. He was born in Helsinki, Finland. After ten years in England writing and broadcasting for the BBC European Services, Hollo settled in the United States in 1966. He enthusiastically contributed to the American literary community as a poet, teacher, and award-winning translator. Fluent in German, Swedish, Finnish and English by age ten, Hollo made a significant contribution to modern letters as a translator. Hollo was widely published in little magazines, and his books include Sojourner Microcosms (Blue Wine Press) and No Complaints (Toothpaste Press); his translations include Red Cats (City Lights) and collections by Haavikko (Cape Goliard/Grossman) and Pentti Saarikoski (Toothpaste Press). Hollo taught at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. His collection of poems, Notes on the Possibilities and Attractions of Existence, received the San Francisco Poetry Center Award.