Kristiina Rikman
Humanist of the day

Kristiina Rikman

Kristiina Rikman has translated hundreds of popular books into Finnish. She had planned initially to go into journalism, but after attending one particular course organised at the University, Rikman decided to take up translating as a career, and it’s a vocation she still pursues. Her repertoire is extensive: over the years she has translated authors ranging from Astrid Lindgren to Philip Roth, not to mention her loyal task of bringing to Finnish readers the work of the American author, John Irving.

Kristiina Rikman

Born November 23, 1947

Bachelor of Arts (Finnish, Finnish Literature, Phonetics), University of Helsinki

Freelance Translator specialising in literature, 1972-
Teacher of Finnish Translation, University of Helsinki, 1981-1989

Finnish translator of children’s and young adults’ fiction, detective novels, travel guides, non-fiction, and contemporary novels from the Swedish and English for various publishers.

Positions of trust
Board member, Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters (SKTL), 1992-1993
Chair, literary branch of SKTL, 1993-1995
Chair, SKTL, 1996-8 and 1998-1999
Board member, Forum Artis Registered Company, 1994-1995, 1996-1997; Deputy Chair, 1997-1998.
Ministry of Education, Taisto II Commission, 1999
Deputy Chair, Arts Promotion Centre, 2001-3, 2004-2006
Member of Panel of Judges, Finlandia Prize, 2011

Awards and Honours
Pro Finlandia Medal, 2014
Erkki Reenpää Prize for Translation, 2012
SKTL, Gold Award, 2000
SKTL, Silver Award, 1990
Artist’s Pension, 2008
WSOY Publishers, Translation Award, 2004
Bursary from City of Helsinki
Bursary from Finnish Cultural Foundation, 1982, 1988, 1998, 2000, 2006 and 2008
State five year Artist Bursary, 2001-5
State three-year Artist Bursary, 1984-1986 and 1995-1997
State one-year Artist Bursary, 1981 and 1992
State Award, 1981 and 2008

Photo: Riitta Virtasalmi
Written by Kristiina Rikman (Tero Juutilainen ed.)
Translated by John Calton

I was the last of the family litter so the child who was read to a great deal, and I myself read plenty. Reading got me telling stories; expressing myself verbally was easy. I had the good fortune to go first to the girls lyceum school in Lahti and then…

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A number of people have asked me why I don’t write something of my own. My response is that all my translations are “my own”. The Finnish translator’s most important tool is their own language. On the basis of source language the translator generates writing in their own language, writing…

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I’ve been in the field so long that I can already look back on my career path with a critical eye. I have been blessed with many of “my own writers”, whose works I have translated in their entirety. I have translated all the works of the contemporary American author…

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