New writing by Estonian authors: Kätlin Kaldmaa, Maarja Kangro, P. I. Filimonov

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Venue: Estonian Writers’ Union (see on map)
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Original language: Estonian
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Kätlin Kaldmaa

Kätlin Kaldmaa (1970) is an Estonian poet, prose writer and translator. After her debut poetry collection Larii-laree was published back in 1996, it took her twelve years to publish her second book. In the late 1990s and 2000s, she focused on translating, including her great favourite Jeanette Winterson. However, in the second decade of this century, she veered back towards her original works – her best-known work is the book of poems Armastuse tähestik from 2012, the experimental novel Islandil ei ole liblikaid (2013), the collection of stories Väike terav nuga (2014) and the children’s book Halb tüdruk on jumala hea olla (2016). All these books have been nominated for Estonian Cultural Endowment literary prizes. Kaldmaa has also stood out as a cultural promoter, working as the President of Estonian PEN, re-established in 2010, and from 2016, as the international secretary of PEN International.

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Maarja Kangro

Maarja Kangro (1973) is an Estonian poet, prose writer and translator. Her first book Kurat õrnal lumel was published in 2006. Her third book of poems, Heureka (2008), won the poetry prize of the Estonian Cultural Endowment. Kangro’s poetry is characterised by intertextuality; instead of playing on the emotions of the reader she appeals to their skills of associating and analysis. Two years later, Kangro won the Estonian Cultural Endowment prose prize for her collection of short stories entitled Ahvid ja solidaarsus. Kangro’s short stories are unlike anything else in contemporary Estonian literature – often autobiographical and ironic in tone, they follow the quests and relationships of a self-assured woman at the border between youth and middle age. Kangro’s gaze is decidedly sober and free of illusions, coming from a rational sensibility (which, of course, does not mean that her characters cannot be irrational). In her documentary novel Klaaslaps, published last year, Kangro candidly describes her failed attempts at having a child, not sparing herself or anyone else around her. Kangro is also a remarkable translator and mostly translates from Italian and German, including authors like Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Giacomo Leopardi and Bertolt Brecht.

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P. I. Filimonov

P. I. Filimonov (1975) is a Russian writer living in Estonia, who appeared on the Estonian literary scene in the 2000s with just one commendable aim: to stay. His debut Зона неевклидовой геометрии (2007) was well received and four Estonian translations of his works have since been published. Thalassa! Thalassa!, published in 2013, is noteworthy for its cosmopolitan grasp and social nerve – it deals, among other things, with sects – and is characterised by the author as ‘a novel/miracle cure’. Filimonov’s work, in general, exudes healthy irony that sometimes veers towards bitterness. Even though the blurb of Зона неевклидовой геометрии calls the author ‘a vulgar geezer in shapeless trackies, lounging on the sofa, drinking beer, watching football on the TV, who lazily muses on the meaning of everything in the 15-minute half-time’, the real-life Flimonov is a noteworthy member of the stylish baldheads’ club – Estonian literature has its share, from August Gailit to Paavo Matsin – and he writes in a sober way, yet skillfully plays with the absurdities of life and literature.

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