Urmas Vadi and Sven Mikser

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Venue: Estonian Writers’ Union (see on map)
Event format:
  • Conversation with writer
Original language: Estonian
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Urmas Vadi

Urmas Vadi (1977) is an Estonian writer, journalist, screenwriter and theatre producer. Vadi began his literary career as a member of the Tartu NAK group in the late 1990s; in the early noughties, he published mainly short story collections and plays, searching for and honing his style, so that his 2010 book Kirjad tädi Annele already gave a clearer idea of Vadi’s characteristic prose style that combines (auto)biographical elements and fantasy games that border on the absurd. Vadi finds meaningful events or contacts with cultural figures in his own life, which allows him to create extravagant stories based on them. Lacking a better definition, Vadi could be called a magical humorist, although some darker streams have appeared in his stories over time. For example in his collection of short stories titled Kuidas me kõik reas niimoodi läheme (2014), a sense of the fleeting nature of human life is clearly palpable. In 2012, Vadi published the prose work Tagasi Eestisse, which could be called his first ‘proper’ novel. This was followed by the highly popular Neverland (2017) and last year’s Kuu teine pool, which made Vadi one of the most widely-read authors in Estonia. Here, too, he combines autobiographical elements with a humorous approach; however, the story of a mother and son at the centre of the story is a contemplation of the fragility of closeness and the inevitability of transience. Urmas Vadi will speak to Sven Mikser.

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Sven Mikser

Sven Mikser (1973) is an Estonian politician and writer. He was elected into the Estonian Parliament, the Riigikogu before he had turned 30, and since then, he has served five different terms, working as the defence minister and foreign minister, leading the Estonian Social Democratic Party between 2010 and 2015 and becoming a member of the European Parliament in 2019. In addition to his brilliant political career, it was quite a surprise when it turned out that Mikser’s debut novel Vareda won the 2023 novel competition organised by the Estonian Writers’ Union. The novel is set in a pivotal moment in Estonia’s history, in 1991, when the Berlin Wall is falling somewhere, and the Soviet Union is falling apart a bit closer to home. 16-year-old Johannes, who wants to become an artist, goes to housesit a school building in an old manor house peacefully lounging in a village named Vareda, in the middle of nowhere. The novel describes the intellectual explorations of a young person, his relations with his mother and father, the first tentative steps in love, the peculiar power of art, and saying goodbye to the older generation – everything one would expect from a mature, poetic, slightly nostalgic young adult novel about a particular era and place. Sven Mikser will talk to Urmas Vadi.

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