New writing by Estonian authors: Eva Koff, Vahur Afanasjev, Mehis Heinsaar

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Venue: Estonian Writers’ Union (see on map)
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Original language: Estonian
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Eva Koff

Eva Koff (1973) is an Estonian writer and translator. She emerged on the literary scene in the early 2000s, when her play Meie isa won the drama competition organised by the Estonian Theatre Agency. The play is based on the documentary novel L’Adversaire by French writer Emmanuel Carrère (translated into Estonian by Eva Koff’s husband Indrek Koff). The book tells the real-life story of Jean-Claude Romand, who, after living under an assumed identity for decades, murders his unsuspecting family. Eva Koff’s Meie isa looks at the story from the perspective of Romand’s children. Koff’s play Sabaga täht won third prize at the 2005 drama competition. She has written the children’s books Kust tulevad vastused? (2002) and Keerutädi (2012, first prize at the children’s books competition Põlvepikuraamat), worked as a writer for children’s programmes on television and radio and translated the novel Stupeur et tremblements by the Belgian author Amélie Nothomb into Estonian.

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Vahur Afanasjev

Vahur Afanasjev (1979) is an Estonian poet and prose writer who has also dabbled in music. He began his literary career at the legendary Tartu group NAK. His first book of poetry Kandiline maailm was published in 2000 and for a while, all his titles began with the same letters: the collection of stories Kanepi kirik (2002), the book of poetry Kaantega viin (2004), the novel Kastraat from Ontario (2005), Katedraal Emajões (2006) and Kaadrid otsustavad (2007). Afanasjev’s witty, humorous and socially aware, almost naturalistic work received greater acclaim in 2015, when his book of poetry Lasnamäe tigu won the Estonian Cultural Endowment poetry prize. It is a cohesive, ironic, yet heartfelt vision of life at the periphery in southeastern Estonia, combining sensitive spatial poetry and a keen eye for social issues. Afanasjev has also made a successful foray into travel literature – his book Minu Brüssel won the best travel book award from travel magazine Go Reisiajakiri in 2011.

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Mehis Heinsaar

Mehis Heinsaar (1973) is a renowned and award-winning Estonian author. His first two collections of stories published in 2001 – Vanameeste näppaja and Härra Pauli kroonikad – won the Betti Alver Debut Prize and the Estonian Cultural Endowment prose prize. He has also won the Friedebert Tuglas Short Story Award on three occasions and the Juhan Liiv Poetry Prize. Despite these accolades, Heinsaar has preserved his characteristically modest and slightly mysterious position – he is a cool eccentric of the backstreets of Tartu, and his life and activities are very similar to the parallel reality of his absorbing novels; a world where the supernatural seems natural. It can even be argued that in his short stories, Heinsaar has created an Estonian version of magical realism – its scope can be tangible, sometimes even cosy, but this in no way diminishes his visionary and dramatic streak.

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