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Estonian Short Stories

Estonian Short Stories

Author(s): Kajar Pruul (Editor), Darlene Reddaway (Translator)

Location(s): Estonia

Genre(s): Short Stories

Era(s): Contemporary

This anthology of contemporary Estonian short fiction meets an important need. Although Estonian writers have been known as bold and exciting innovators testing the bounds of Soviet literary doctrine, much of that reputation is based on hearsay; the little that had been translated during Soviet times largely conformed to Socialist Realist practices, and this poorly representative selection was translated first into Russian and then into English, distancing the authenticity and originality of the text. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Estonian writers have continued to produce stories of startling style, but since their narrow Russian “window” onto world literature has closed, the few translations that once appeared have become even scarcer. Now Kajar Pruul and Darlene Reddaway have produced the first anthology of Estonian short prose from the late 1960s through early 1990s. The collection charts the return of modernism to Estonian prose fiction at the end of the sixties and the beginning of the seventies and its subsequent evolution during the following two decades. Linked by a number of common themes – the nature of creativity, the role of art in contemporary society, the contrast of modern city life and traditional rural culture – the stories vary stylistically from colloquial to markedly “literary” and even somewhat experimental, but are always closer to mainstream realism than to avant-garde language games. This collection, in Ritva Poom’s fine translation, introduces English-language readers to a vigorous and original contemporary literature.

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