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Tove Jansson: The Artist Whose Writing You Need To Know

Tove Jansson (1914-2001), the Finnish artist most renowned for her creation of the Moomin books for children (as well as cartoon strips and political cartoons) was less famously a novelist and  short story writer for adults. Thanks to Thomas Teal’s translation of several of Jansson’s books into English, this prodigiously talented woman’s writing is being seen by many fresh eyes. Teal’s translation of  The True Deceiver (New York Review Books) won the Best Translated Book Award for fiction in 2011.

An excerpt from Tove Jansson’s The True Deceiver:

“Katri had scrubbed the room above the storekeeper’s shop, scrubbed it with a kind of painstaking rage, the way women clean when they can’t lash out.  She scrubbed away the neighbors’ shamefaced talk about envy and petty favours, she scrubbed away all the black night thoughts, and most of all she scrubbed away the doorway where the storekeeper used to loiter on some pretext, standing in hungry vigilance, waiting for some sign to tell him if he could go on hating or if there was the tiniest little handhold for his lust.  The room became as clinically clean and naked as a wave-washed skerry.”

Want to read more? Here’s a list of Tove Jansson’s  translated work:

Jansson’s translated novels:

Sommarboken (1972, The Summer Book)

Solstaden (1974, Sun City)

Den ärliga bedragaren (1982, The Honest Swindler) (translated into English in 2009, under the title The True Deceiver)

Jansson’s translated short story collections:

Bildhuggarens dotter (1968, Sculptor’s Daughter)

Resa med lätt bagage (1987, Travelling with Light Luggage) (translated into English in 2010, under the title Travelling Light)

Rent spel (1989, Fair Play) (translated into English)

Meddelande. Noveller i urval 1971–1997 (1998, A Winter Book) (compilation of earlier material. Translated into English)

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