Friday, 31 July 2009

Divided or united?

Swedish Book Review now remains the only English-language periodical that's focused exclusively on translations and reviews of Swedish literature. Books from Finland, with its coverage of Finnish and Finland-Swedish writing in English translation, is a close rival, but earlier this year discontinued print publication, and now concentrates all its energies on a WordPress-engined website. After a promising start, the site has recently shown some signs of uncertainty, with updates becoming less frequent (the last new item appeared on July 16), and it's to be hoped that the demise of the magazine's print version won't lead to a dissipation of the Web effort, too.

One big difference between the SBR and BfF sites is that the Finnish site offers some interactivity to its readers, with online comments boxes and the possibility of discussion. SBR's site, by contrast, is of the old-fashioned static kind, with plenty of text and information, but not much in the way of feedback and debate.

In some ways it seems a pity that Books from Finland has had to give up its print version entirely. If run concurrently with the online version, the magazine in its old paper format, even if it only appeared once or twice a year, would probably have a greater impact, and reach more readers.

Or is there perhaps an argument for thinking about the merging of both journals - SBR and BfF - into a single Nordic literature magazine project? This has been tried before, but didn't work out for various reasons. Maybe it's time to try again.

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