Arvo Valton

© Estonian Literature Centre

Arvo Valton (1935) is mostly known as the master of short prose and his short stories published in 1960s and 1970s are undoubtedly one of the best in the history of Estonian short stories. Valton could be seen as Estonia’s Sergei Dovlatov, because they have a similar starting point: both were haunted by the gap between the official ideology and the actual social conditions. Whereas Dovlatov used biographical elements quite directly, Valton was looking for unusual locations, which did not necessarily have to have a link to his own life, and which therefore had a more symbolic ring to them. At the same time, one must remember Valton’s extreme diversity: he has written novels, children’s books, aphorisms, poetry, plays and screenplays (let us not forget that he wrote the screenplay for the cult classic The Last Relic!). In recent years, he has mostly stood out as a translator, bringing us the authors of Finno-Ugric people living on Russian territory – it is a lifework itself. You can meet Arvo Valton in Kloostri Ait on Sunday, 31 May at 4 pm, when he will be joined by literary scholar and writer Jaanus Vaiksoo.