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Eesti novell 2020

– tekijä: Made Luiga

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The Estonian Short Story 2020
Review of the hardcover edition (May 2020)

Eesti novell 2020 (The Estonian Short Story 2020) is a curated annual anthology of stories by Estonian writers. This is now the 3rd in the series and was published in late April 2020 and collects 16 stories from throughout the year 2019 and one archival story from 1920. These were mostly originally published in the literary journals Looming (Creation) and Vikerkaar (Rainbow).

Another feature of the series is the inclusion of the annual Friedebert Tuglas Short Story Prize winners. Aside from being one of the classic triumvirate of Estonian writers alongside Anton Hansen Tammsaare and Oskar Luts, Tuglas is especially associated with the short story and the annual prize has been awarded to 2 Estonian short stories since 1971, the year of his passing. For 2020, these winners are Sebastian Rüütli tõehetk (Sebastian Rüütel’s Moment of Truth) by P.I. Filimonov and Õpetajanna saabumine (The Arrival of the Female Teacher) by Livia Viitol.

I thoroughly enjoyed the variety of this collection and found it to be a great opportunity to encounter several writers who were entirely new to me. This is especially so as being a foreign born Estonian reader it is difficult for me to follow all of the emerging writers from a distance with subscriptions to journals being prohibitively expensive.

Some of my favourites were Mustamäe vanad (Mustamäe Old Folks) which was like a Samuel Beckett play as it consisted of dialogue between two seniors trapped inside their suburban Tallinn apartment. The absurd comedies of Intsident 43. Lasteaias (Incident at Kindergarden No. 43) and Sebastian Rüütli tõehetk (Sebastian Rüütel’s Moment of Truth) were not always realistic, but were definitely entertaining. Igaüks kannab oma risti ise (Everyone Carries Their Own Cross By Themselves) and Õpetajanna saabumine (The Arrival of the Female Teacher) both had excellent twist reveal endings.

From the cover through to the author's biographies, this issue is framed as a reaction to the current 2020 world COVID pandemic, with the support of authors and reading during lockdowns being a cause to support. I definitely encourage that.

Mild Spoilers ahead. I only discuss the setups of most of the stories without disclosing the endings, but some may consider these spoilers, so I've blocked it accordingly.

1. Kääbussiga (Miniature Pig) by Urmas Vadi. Some parents become increasingly irate about their neighbours’ pet pig which has been given the same name as their daughter.
2. Ajaliku elu rõõmud (The Joys of Temporal Life) by Urmo Jaanimägi. A patient in a doctor’s waiting room has an alarming conversation with a little girl who is also waiting there.
3. Läti lipp (The Latvian Flag) by Maarja Kangro. An Estonian woman on a Latvian vacation chases after a Latvian man.
4. Kangelase teekond (The Hero’s Journey) by Kertu Moppel. Filmmakers debate the use of film music that sounds like that of Arvo Pärt in their film’s soundtrack.
5. Nii palju lugusid (So Many Stories) by Paula Nerve. A woman sits with her friend Anna who discusses her previous husbands.
6. Mustamäe vanad (Mustamäe Old Folks) by Toomas Haug. Two seniors argue about their past memories when they are both incapacitated in their apartment.
7. Igaüks kannab oma risti ise (Everyone Carries Their Own Cross By Themselves) by Piret Põldver. A woman assembles a cross in the backyard shed while being criticized by her mother.
8. Ada by Jüri Kolk. A man carries out the final wishes of an older woman whom he always felt a kinship to.
9. Ümbermäng (Replay) by Kairi Look. While waiting for her scholarship audition results, a piano student daydreams about having gone out with another student.
10. Intsident 43. Lasteaias (Incident at Kindergarden No. 43) by Tauno Vahter. When the monthly hotdog lunch at kindergarden is cancelled due to vegetarian week, young Ralf starts a student uprising.
11. Homo ludens (Man at Play) by Kristjan Sander. A group of young adults consume some hallucinogenic substance and revert to being playground children.
12. Veider (Weird) by Margit Lõhmus. A woman perceives herself as dying and transmuting into a hawk.
13. Must mees minu elus (A Dark Man in My Life) by Maimu Berg. A woman reminisces about her dealings with someone from the secret police.
14. Hapsal (presumably this title is a colloquialism for the town of Haapsalu in Estonia) by Andrei Ivanov. A visitor to Haapsalu reminisces about his family, friends and acquaintances. The story becomes somewhat of a rant about the fiction writer in today's society. All of this is possibly meta-fictional or non-fictional as the writer refers to himself as Andrei and also references his friend Hanuman from Hanuman's Travels.
15. Sebastian Rüütli tõehetk (Sebastian Rüütel’s Moment of Truth) by P.I. Filimonov. Sebastian attends the funeral of a relative whom he hardly remembers and becomes the unwanted centre of attention.
16. Õpetajanna saabumine (The Arrival of the Female Teacher) by Livia Viitol. A grandmother on her way to babysit for her son’s family is coerced into assisting an Argentinean tourist on a Baltic tour.
17. Metsa serval (At the Edge of the Forest) (1920) by Eessaare Aadu aka Jaan Anvelt. A Communist soldier confronts his brother who is fighting for the Estonian Nationalists in the Estonian War of Independence / Russian Civil War.


Trivia and Links
The intriguing cover photograph which seems to allude to covering your face with a mask in the current pandemic situation is by Stina Kase Photography and is actually from 2013 and can be seen in its full version here.

The names of all of the Friedebert Tuglas Short Story Award winners from 1971 to the present day can be seen at Estonian Wikipedia here. ( )
  alanteder | Aug 4, 2020 |
ei arvosteluja | lisää arvostelu
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