Leelo Tungal

© Dmitri Kotjuh

Leelo Tungal (1947) is an Estonian writer whose contribution to Estonian culture is impossible to summarise in ten lines. A published author since the mid-1970s, Tungal has become a national treasure and her work transcends all social divisions. Tungal has published nearly a hundred books, mainly poetry and prose aimed at children and young people. Her poetry is characterised by a life-affirming mentality and an exceptional sense of humour. She has also written poetry for adults, radio plays, opera librettos, lyrics for musicals and songs, translations, primers and textbooks. In 1994, Leelo Tungal founded the magazine Hea Laps aimed at children and young people, and she worked as its editor-in-chief up until last year. While Tungal was a beloved writer for decades, she made a breakthrough to an even wider readership about ten years ago with her memoirs Seltsimees laps ja suured inimesed (Comrade Kid and the Grown-Ups, 2008), followed by Samet ja saepuru ehk Seltsimees laps ja kirjatähed (Velvet and Sawdust or Comrade Kid and the ABC, 2009) and Naisekäe puudutus ehk Seltsimees laps ja isa (A Woman’s Touch: Comrade Kid and Dad, 2018). These books are about Leelo’s childhood in Estonia groaning under the communist regime. In 2018, the film The Little Comrade by Monika Siimets was released, and it was voted the best film of the year. Tungal was awarded the national lifetime achievement award in 2019 for her remarkable creative activities. Leelo Tungal talks to writer Tiia Toomet.

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