Baltic literature roundup

  • 2014-11-05

Snow Drifts, I Sing: Selected Poems
Author: Juhan Liiv
Translators: Harvey Lee Hix,
Juri Talvet
Guernica, 2013

Coming to fame with his short story “The Shadow”, Juhan Liiv worked for various newspapers. His poetry went largely unrecognized during his lifetime, and achieved fame only after his death. The Juhan Liiv Prize for Poetry is named after him, which is one of Estonia’s most prestigious prizes. The rhyming of his poetry, which often deals with his love for Estonia, is always a tough assignment for translators into almost every language, especially English, but the able skills of Hix and Talvet bring out the beauty of his words for an English audience. o


Life Stories
Author: Nora Ikstena
Translators: Margita Gailitis
Guernica, 2013

In this selection of short stories, Nora Ikstena peers into the lives of those that at first seem quite ordinary but who are fleshed out by Ikstena’s prose with often heart-wrenching stories that leave you thinking long after you have put the book down. In the story “Amaryllii,” an old woman ruminates on her life and family as she cares for her bedridden husband. In “The Orange,” the mind of a woman who thinks she has cancer meets an unexpected end that she brings upon herself. These stories are a worthy read if you haven’t had the chance to pick up Latvian literature in translation. o


The Dedalus Book of Lithuanian
Authors: Various
Translators: Various
Dedalus Limited

This anthology of 19 different Lithuanian authors, covering from the beginning of the 20th century to the present-day, gives a broad overview of the development of Lithuanian literature. The anthology, which includes both short stories and excerpts from the country’s most celebrated writers such as Jurgis Kuncinas, Giedre Radvilaviciute and Sigitas Parulskis, takes the reader on a journey from stories set in idyllic rural settings to the suffering of deportations to Siberia. With its deft translations, one has a chance to become acquainted with a slew of authors, with some in English translation for the first time.