Beginner’s Guide To Baltic Literature

Baltic_states_flag_map.svgIn 2018, all three Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania – mark the 100th anniversary of their declaration of independence, so, in celebration of the centenary, I decided to put together this beginner’s guide to Baltic literature to highlight some fiction (as well as some non-fiction) from all three Baltic States that is currently available in English translation. I hope the following list of titles will give you some ideas on where to start your journey of discovering Baltic literature.

I’m also planning on updating this list from time to time to make sure that it includes the newest releases.

Links to the full list of books by country (with descriptions):


Estonia

ESTONIA

The Czar’s Madman by Jaan Kross
Translated by Anselm Hollo
Published by The Harvill Press, 2001

Diary of a Blood Donor by Mati Unt
Translated by Ants Eert
Published by Dalkey Archive Press, 2008

Brecht at Night by Mati Unt
Translated by Eric Dickens
Published by Dalkey Archive Press, 2009

Purge by Sofi Oksanen
Translated by Lola Rogers
Published by Grove Press, 2010

The Same River by Jaan Kaplinski
Translated by Susan Wilson
Published by Peter Owen Publishers, 2011

Radio by Tõnu Õnnepalu
Translated by Adam Cullen
Published by Dalkey Archive Press, 2014

The Man Who Spoke Snakish by Andrus Kivirähk
Translated by Christopher Moseley
Published by Grove Press, 2015

When the Doves Disappeared by Sofi Oksanen
Translated by Lola Rogers
Published by Knopf, 2015

The Cavemen Chronicle by Mihkel Mutt 
Translated by Adam Cullen
Published by Dalkey Archive Press, 2015

The Saviour of Lasnamäe by Mari Saat
Translated by Susan Wilson
Published by Vagabond Voices, 2015

The Brother by Rein Raud
Translated by Adam Cullen

Published by Open Letter Books, 2016

The Ropewalker: Between Three Plagues Volume I by Jaan Kross
Translated by Merike Lepasaar Beecher
Published by MacLehose Press, 2016

Apothecary Melchior and the Mystery of St Olaf’s Church by Indrek Hargla 
Translated by Adam Cullen
Published by Peter Owen Publishers, 2016

The Beauty of History by Viivi Luik
Translated by Hildi Hawkins
Published by Norvik Press, 2016

The Sweepstakes of Love by Toomas Vint
Translated by Matthew Hyde
Published by Dalkey Archive Press, 2016

The Willow King by Meelis Friedenthal
Translated by Matthew Hyde

Published by Pushkin Press, 2017

The Inner Immigrant by Mihkel Mutt
Translated by Adam Cullen
Published by Dalkey Archive Press, 2017

Reconstruction by Rein Raud
Translated by Adam Cullen

Published by Dalkey Archive Press, 2017

The Death Of The Perfect Sentence by Rein Raud
Translated by Matthew Hyde

Published by Vagabond Voices, 2018

Burning Cities by Kai Aareleid
Translated by Adam Cullen
Published by Peter Owen Publishers, 2018

I Loved A German by A. H. Tammsaare
Translated by Christopher Moseley
Published by Vagabond Voices, 2018

The Misadventures of the New Satan by A. H. Tammsaare
Translated by Olga Shartze
Published by Norvik Press, 2018

Pobeda 1946: A Car Called Victory by Ilmar Taska
Translated by Christopher Moseley
Published by Norvik Press, 2018

Hanuman’s Travels by Andrei Ivanov
Translated by Matthew Hyde
Published by Vagabond Voices, 2018

Days of Grace: Selected Poems by Doris Kareva
Translated by Miriam McIlfatrick-Ksenofontov
Published by Bloodaxe Books, 2018

On the Edge of a Sword by Kristiina Ehin
Translated by Ilmar Lehtpere
Published by Arc Publications, 2018

Toomas Nipernaadi by August Gailit
Translated by Eva Finch, Jason Finch
Published by Dedalus Books, 2018

Everyone’s the Smartest by Contra, illustrated by Ulla Saar
Translated by Kätlin Kaldmaa & Charlotte Geater
Published by The Emma Press, 2018

The Rules of Bird Hunting by Eeva Park
Translated by Jayde Will
Published by Parthian Books, 2019

Baltic Belles: The Dedalus Book of Estonian Women’s Literature, edited by Elle-Mari Talivee
Translated by Adam Cullen, Jason & Eva Finch
Published by Dedalus Books, 2019


Latvia

Latvia.jpg

The Cage by Alberts Bels
Translated by Ojars Kratins
Published by Peter Owen Publishers, 1990

High Tide by Inga Ābele
Translated by Kaija Straumanis
Published by Open Letter Books, 2013

Flesh-Coloured Dominoes by Zigmunds Skujiņš
Translated by Kaija Straumanis
Published by Arcadia Books, 2014

Come to Me by Kārlis Vērdiņš
Translated by Ieva Lešinska
Published by Arc Publications, 2014

Five Fingers by Māra Zālīte
Translated by Margita Gailitis
Published by Dalkey Archive Press, 2017

One House For All by Inese Zandere, illustrated by Juris Petraskevics
Translated by Sabīne Ozola and adapted by Lawrence Schimel
Published by Book Island, 2017

The Noisy Classroom
by Ieva Flamingo, illustrated by Vivianna Maria Staņislavska

Translated by Žanete Vēvere Pasqualini
Published by The Emma Press, 2017

The Secret Box by Daina Tabūna
Translated by Jayde Will
Published by The Emma Press, 2017

Soviet Milk by Nora Ikstena
Translated by Margita Gailitis
Published by Peirene Press, 2018

18 by Pauls Bankovskis
Translated by Ieva Lešinska
Published by Vagabond Voices, 2018

The Green Crow by Kristīne Ulberga
Translated by Žanete Vēvere Pasqualini
Published by Peter Owen Publishers, 2018

Doom 94 by Jānis Joņevs
Translated by Kaija Straumanis
Published by Wrecking Ball Press, 2018

The Book of Riga, edited by Becca Parkinson & Eva EglajaKristsone
Translated by Kaija Straumanis, Suzanne McQuade, Uldis Balodis, Ieva Lešinska, Mārta Ziemelis and Žanete Vēvere Pasqualini
Published by Comma Press, 2018

30 Questions People Don’t Ask: Selected Poems by Inga Gaile
Translated by Ieva Lešinska
Published by Pleiades Press, 2018

In the Shadow of Death by Rūdolfs Blaumanis
Translated by Uldis Balodis
Published by Momentum Books, 2018

Dog Town by Luīze Pastore, illustrated by Reinis Pētersons
Translated by Žanete Vēvere Pasqualini
Published by Firefly Press, 2018

The Book of Clouds
by Juris Kronbergs, illustrated by Anete Melece

Translated by Māra Rozīte & Richard O’Brien
Published by The Emma Press, 2018

Queen of Seagulls
by Rūta Briede

Translated by Elīna Brasliņa
Published by The Emma Press, 2018

All I Have Is Words by Knuts Skujenieks
Translated by Margita Gailitis
Published by Guernica Editions, 2018

Among the Living and the Dead by Inara Verzemnieks
Published by Pushkin Press, 2018

Narcoses by Madara Gruntmane
Translated by Marta Ziemelis
Published by Parthian Books, 2019

Beasts by Krišjānis Zeļģis

Translated by Jayde Will
Published by Parthian Books, 2019

Phenomena
by Eduards Aivars

Translated by Jayde Will
Published by Parthian Books, 2019

Insomnia
by Alberts Bels

Translated by Jayde Will
Published by Parthian Books, 2019

Nakedness by Zigmunds Skujiņš
Translated by Uldis Balodis
Published by Vagabond Voices, 2019


Lithuania

Lithuania.jpg

Vilnius Poker by Ričardas Gavelis 
Translated by Elizabeth Novickas
Published by Open Letter Books, 2009

Tūla by Jurgis Kunčinas
Translated by Elizabeth Novickas
Published by Pica Pica Press, 2016

Breathing Into Marble by Laura Sintija Černiauskaitė
Translated by Marija Marcinkute
Published by Noir Press, 2016

The Easiest by Rasa Aškinytė
Translated by Jura Avizienis
Published by Noir Press, 2017

Shtetl Love Song by Grigory Kanovich
Translated by Elliot Cohen
Published by Noir Press, 2017

Memoirs of a Life Cut Short by Ričardas Gavelis
Translated by Jayde Will
Published by Vagabond Voices, 2018

The Music Teacher by Renata Šerelytė
Translated by Marija Marcinkute
Published by Noir Press, 2018

Shadows on the Tundra by Dalia Grinkevičiūtė
Translated by Delija Valiukenas
Published by Peirene Press, 2018

White Shroud by Antanas Škėma
Translated by Karla Gruodis
Published by Vagabond Voices, 2018

The Last Day by Jaroslavas Melnikas
Translated by Marija Marcinkute
Published by Noir Press, 2018

Darkness and Company by Sigitas Parulskis
Translated by Karla Gruodis
Published by Peter Owen Publishers, 2018

The Fox on the Swing by Evelina Daciutè, illustrated by Aušra Kiudulaite
Published by Thames & Hudson, 2018

The Moon is a Pill by Aušra Kaziliūnaitė
Translated by Rimas Uzgiris
Published by Parthian Books, 2019

Now I Understand by Marius Burokas
Translated by Rimas Uzgiris
Published by Parthian Books, 2019

In The Shadow of Wolves by Alvydas Šlepikas
Translated by Romas Kinka
Published by Oneworld Publications, 2019

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19 thoughts on “Beginner’s Guide To Baltic Literature

  1. winstonsdad March 25, 2018 / 18:18

    Thanks for doing this list a few title had passed me by I have a couple of others on my shelves to read

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agnese March 26, 2018 / 12:14

      I hope you discovered some new books to add to your to-be-read list

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Michael @ Knowledge Lost March 26, 2018 / 01:50

    I’ve only read When the Doves Disappeared, but The Death of the Perfect Sentence, Soviet Milk, High Tide, Flesh-Coloured Dominoes are all on my wishlist/TBR. I see your influences in my reading. I will probably need to revisit this list and add more at a later date.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agnese March 26, 2018 / 12:18

      I’m so happy to hear that! I hope this list will inspire you to pick up more Baltic lit (maybe something from Lithuania, it seems to be underrepresented on your wishlist/TBR) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael @ Knowledge Lost March 26, 2018 / 12:27

        I do need to read some Lithuanian lit. I was eyeing Shadows on the Tundra by Dalia Grinkevičiutė today. There will be Baltic lit in my future for sure

        Liked by 1 person

        • Agnese March 26, 2018 / 12:53

          Yay! I want to read that one as well. I’m also hoping to get to Tūla soon.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Claire 'Word by Word' March 26, 2018 / 14:35

    This is so great Agnese, thank you so much for the time and effort to put this together, I’ve every description and it’s like a whole new room in the bookshop, to see all these titles together and available in English. I’ve only read Purge, but I love the sound of The Green Crow, which I see is coming out later this year, and quite a few others which I’m looking up in Goodreads to try and get a feel for.

    Of course now I want to know which are your favourites!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agnese March 26, 2018 / 22:02

      Thank you so much for the kind words! I hope people will find it useful. 🙂

      From the ones that I’ve read so far, I loved The Death of the Perfect Sentence, The Man Who Spoke Snakish, Soviet Milk, High Tide, The Secret Box, Doom 94 and Vilnius Poker.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Rob March 28, 2018 / 09:34

    Thank you for writing this! These are all new to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agnese March 28, 2018 / 10:43

      I hope you found something to add to your to-be-read list!

      Like

  5. Kinna March 31, 2018 / 09:22

    Thank you for compiling this list. I haven’t read any Baltic Literature and that needs to be remedied.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agnese March 31, 2018 / 16:03

      I hope some of these books piqued your interest!

      Like

  6. Bellezza April 2, 2018 / 03:50

    Wow! You introduced me to so many new titles and authors! (Love what Peirene Press has published.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agnese April 2, 2018 / 13:42

      I hope some of these sounded interesting to you! Peirene Press is one of my favourite publishers, so I’m happy to see that their bringing more attention to Baltic fiction.

      Like

  7. ireadthatinabook May 6, 2018 / 17:11

    This is such a great resource, thank you! I recently finished Soviet Milk (which was excellent!) and am planning to read Shadows on the Tundra as soon as it is out but apart from Sofi Oksanen and these two all the rest were new to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agnese May 6, 2018 / 18:16

      I’m glad you found it useful! I hope you discovered some new books to add to your to-be-read list.

      Liked by 1 person

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