ELM #27

The new issue of the Estonian Literary Magazine is now available in print ant online.

It’s a very poetry heavy issue, with articles about the “legendary” Heiti Talvik (who was the “guru” of his generation “like Burroughs was for the Beatniks”), on Maarja Kangro (the title of the piece, “iiii-iiii-iiiiiiiiii! is pretty intriguing), and Eha Lättemäe.

There is an article on Younger Estonian Prose that is pretty interesting. In the piece, Peeter Helme looks at the paucity of outlets for young Estonian writers—really seems limited to the biannual “novel competition” and the magazine Värske Rõhk (Fresh Pressure) which only publishes authors who are between 17 and 27—and makes some general comments about the fiction the kids are writing today. He basically breaks it down into three categories: science fiction (which is a relatively new genre in Estonian literature), psychological realism (of course), and magical realism (just keep walking).

His info about the winner of the novel competition and the runner-up is pretty interesting. First, about the winner Tiina Laanem and her novel Little Old Men:

This debut novel is an ironic glance at Estonian society: the characters are not real people but caricatures of creatures as they are described in modern lifestyle and women’s magazines.

Helme refers to the novel that placed second—_Pupils of St Nicholas_ (aka The Pupils of Niguliste) by Olle Lauli (a pseudonym)—as being more “lucid” and “grim” than the winning book, and also claims that it was influenced by American Psycho:

This is quite an exception work in Estonian literature. Most importantly, it marks the arrival of the Anglo-American form of the novel in Estonia. The story is quite plot driven, using spoken language, occasionally coarse dialogue and—typically of American authors—the book is extraordinarily bulky, 535 pages. Pupils of St Nicholas is a grim and naturalistic tale about the decline of a successful yuppie and about hopelessly tangled human relations at the beginning of the 21st century in Tallinn. It is very disturbing and, as such, a convincing reading experience.

I’m never thrilled to see international authors trying to mimic the “Anglo-American form of the novel,” but some American publisher might be interested in this. There is also a full review of this title in this issue of ELM, which gives a bit more insight into the book. (Businessmen, corruption, God, lack of God, and beatings—that’s how I’m sum up their summary.)

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