Nordic Literary Salon online: The Translucent Heart

In September, Martina Šímová, a translator from Finnish, will be a guest of the Nordic Literary Salon. Her translation of Finnish author Katja Kallio’s novel The Translucent Heart, which tells the story of forbidden love between a Finnish woman and a Russian prisoner of war, was published this year.

You can watch the live stream on Thursday 21 September 2023 at 8pm on the Scandinavian House Facebook page. Later, the recording will be made available on our YouTube channel.

The novel Translucent Heart (published by Kniha Zlín, 2023, translated by Martina Šímová) takes us to 1942, when the ongoing war between Finland and the Soviet Union is in full swing. Young single mother Beata returns home to the southern Finnish peninsula of Hanko, where she finds only death and destruction. When she meets a Soviet prisoner of war, Ivan, who seems to see right into her soul, she finds a glimmer of hope in the darkness of war. Beata is irresistibly drawn to the man, but she must keep her feelings a secret. Love for him means only one thing – betrayal. But the passion that arises cannot be silenced, and the lovers find themselves in mortal danger.

Katja Kallio is a Finnish writer and screenwriter. Before turning to writing full-time, she worked as a film publicist, publishing editor and translator from English, Italian and Spanish. She has written seven novels to date, two of which have been adapted from her screenplay into award-winning films. Her work focuses on independent heroines who struggle to find their place in society and their own shadows; she has an excellent way with character psychology and language that is both poetic and harsh.

Martina Šímová studied English-American Studies and Finnish at Charles University and Finnish Language and Culture at the University of Helsinki. She translates mainly from English and Finnish, occasionally from French, and is also interested in the Hispanic world. When she is not sitting at the computer or studying, she spends her time backpacking in nature or traveling elsewhere, preferably surrounded by the Finnish sea and lakes. She is currently undergoing a five-year psychotherapeutic training in biosynthesis, while also pursuing what is called bibliotherapy, which is the therapeutic use of literature in practice. When it comes to books in translation, she enjoys all genres – the idea, the language and the story are essential. One of the things she likes about translating from Finnish is that in the Finnish literary scene, unlike in the vast English-speaking world, it is much easier to establish personal, deeper contact with the authors being translated and to follow general developments and new trends in literature. Her favourite genre is magical realism.

The partner of the Nordic Literary Salon Online is Translators of the North – an association of translators of fiction from Nordic languages into Czech.

The event is part of the Scandinavian House’s year-long project Nordic Literature in the Heart of Europe 2023, supported by the City of Prague and the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.