Baltic Literature Roundup

  • 2015-01-08

Tonight I Shall Sleep by the Wall
By: Giedra Radvilaviciute
Translator: Elizabeth Novickas Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press

This collection of essay-like short stories by Lithuanian writer Giedra Radvilaviciute is a compilation of work from her three previous books. Her genre-defying pieces are arguably the face of a new generation of Lithuanian writers that have turned the essay into something bordering on fact and fiction, weaving between the two, giving the pieces an almost dream-like or stream-of-conscience feeling. This is certainly the touchstone of a trend in Lithuanian literature that hopefully will be the first of many future translations of authors like her. Her insightful prose and often hilarious and ironic weigh-ins on life make for a pleasurable reading experience.

Flesh-Coloured Dominoes

By: Zigmunds Skujins
Translator: Kaija Straumenis Publisher: Arcadia Books Ltd
Skujins’s fascinating novel is built around two main plotlines, with the first centering on an 18th century Baltic German noble family, and the second the tumultuous history of Latvia in the 20th century. Baroness Valtraute von Bruegen is fervently looking for her husband, who was lost in the Turkish Wars. After a sudden twist of fate whereby her husband’s lower half has been attached to the upper half of a a local capitan named Ulste, she concieves a child with the reattached lower half. Suddenly her husband comes back in one piece, and a conundrum ensues. The links between this and the second narrative gradually make themselves known throughout the book.

Truth and Justice. Andres and Pearu

By: A. H. Tamsaare
Translators: Inna Feldbach and Alan Peter Trei
Publisher: Haute Culture Books
Truth and Justice. Andres and Pearu is the first installment of the sweeping five-volume epic by Estonian writer A. H. Tamsaare. Having already seen a wave of translations into others, most recently in Finnish and French, this is the first modern translation of one of his works in English. Tamsaare, who is one of Estonia’s most celebrated writers of the early 20th century, deals not only with the fate of the Estonian nation, but with such eternal concepts as love, the meaning of life, and whether there are such things as truth and justice. This volume depicts the life of a farmer named Andres and his hardships tilling his ground of stones and bogs, while at the same time dealing with his difficult neighbor Pearu.