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Riina Vuokko

Born September 5, 1975

Bachelor of Arts 2001 (East Asian Studies), University of Helsinki

Translator of Chinese Literature

Winner of the 2014 State literary translation prize for her Finnish translation of Mo Yan’s novel Life and Death are Wearing Me Out
Winner of the 2015 Jarl Hellemann prize for translation for her Finnish translation of Mo Yan’s novel The Republic of Wine

Photo: Nelli Vuokko
Written by Riina Vuokko (Kaija Hartikainen, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

My dream

I dream of survival for the whole body of professional translators into Finnish. In past decades Finland has had a high-level translation culture and the significance of the quality of translations into Finnish was understood for the dissemination of world literature. Recently, however, translation fees have fallen and deadlines have tightened while the number of titles released is declining. It is now even harder to earn a living just by translating into Finnish.

The translation of literature into Finnish is in danger of becoming a stop-gap profession or simply an amateurs’ playground. It is not simply a question of translators’ income; the losers are also readers of literature, as it is becoming ever more difficult to maintain standards.

For Chinese literature, I dream of an end to censorship and naturally a more general improvement in freedom of speech and human rights. While for literature passing censorship can occasionally produce titillating results, it is sad to think of all that literature that remains unpublished or entirely unwritten because of censorship.

Photo: Nelli Vuokko.


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