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The Independent Culture
Having a soft spot for things Scandinavian, we were delighted to receive the elegant publication Books From Finland, with its appropriately wintry purple cover and immaculate design. And what should we find on page four but one of our very own Pantheon cartoons by Martin Rowson, satirising Finn Family Moomintroll? There's some faintly self-conscious gloom on offer; the first novel extract ends: "The sun has gone out and the earth is a snowball in the bottomless ocean of space." A review of "Long Live Men! Men's biographies" details alcoholism and misogyny at odds with the jaunty title, and a sombre novelist called Tiina Kaila talks about Giordano Bruno and the absurdity of the world. But columnist Kjell Westo is witty on the subject of a writer's uneasy relationship with the media, and "Happytown, Sadtown", an article on small town life in Finland, does at least indicate there's a sense of irony at work.

Books From Finland is in English; two new publications, Tandem and Stone Soup are Anglo-French and multilingual respectively. Tandem, produced in association with the French Institute in London, is a lively round- up of events, interviews and reviews of interest to Francophiles. French writer J M G Le Clezio contributes a brief memoir of his time spent at the Elephant and Castle and there's an interview with philosopher Rene Girard.

Stone Soup is the most impressive (typographically) of all, with its bold surrealist cover and in-your-face design. Polish writer Adam Zagajewski is interviewed, Umberto Eco talks about his new novel and co-editor (with Bosnian poet Igor Klikovac) Ken Smith contributes poems.

! Books From Finland: e-mail bff@kaapeli.fi>

Tandem, c/o the French Institute, 0171 589 6211

Stone Soup, 37 Chesterfield Rd, London W4 3HQ

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