Jānis Lejiņš (1954) is one of Latvia’s pre-eminent authors of historical novels. His trilogy Zīmogs sarkanā vaskā [A Seal in Red Wax] earned popularity among readers as one of the most widely read works of this genre in Latvian literature as well as a number of prizes, including the Kilograms Kultūras Award as the year’s major event in literature. His screenplays for TV dramas are also highly regarded.
Vīrieša sirds [A Man's Heart]. Riga: Zvaigzne ABC, 2017.
Kamera Obskura [Camera Obscura]. Riga: Karogs, 2012.
Zīmogs Sarkanā vaskā III. Rūnas [A Seal in Red Vax III. The Runes]. Riga: Karogs, 2009.
Zīmogs Sarkanā vaskā II. Ķēniņš [A Seal in Red Vax II. The King]. Riga: Karogs, 2004.
Zīmogs Sarkanā vaskā I. Brāļi [A Seal in Red Vax I. Brothers]. Riga: Karogs, 2001.
Mūsu stacija [Our Station]. Riga: Liesma, 1988.
Books to fall for
A Man’s Heart
A Man’s Heart (Vīrieša sirds)
A Man’s Heart meets the criteria of “historical novel”, however, like other novels by Lejiņš, it has multiple layers, making it more than just a formal portrayal of the period. In the novel, author Jānis Lejiņš turns to the history of 20th-century Latvia. At the centre of the tale is a modest and to some extent comic Švejklike character Ludis Šteinbergs, who shows up at a Latvian small town secondary school in spring 1939 to teach boys how to become real men and is naively overconfident in his own infallibility. Soon enough the unexpected occurs: into the perfect man’s carefully cultivated bachelor world, a femme fatale enters. Yet along the way the ominous mill of fate of the mid-20th century has already begun to turn, ready to annihilate anyone who may get caught between the millstones. Since the novel begins in 1949 with authorities erecting a monument to Šteinbergs as a hero who fell in “the struggle against Fascism”, the reader must guess the answer to the question: who is this person really – an insignificant pawn in the great games of the 20th century, or someone whose essential nature is easy to overlook? The novel follows the life of Šteinbergs for several decades: he is the leading figure against a background of two major wars and the interwar period, which features other characters as well, starting with the General Secretary of the Soviet Union and ending with a meticulously crafted network of spies in several countries. A Man’s Heart offers the reader a psychologically realistic story rich in documentary fact in which there is witty humour as well, and the author, with a smile, often pokes fun at the stronger or weaker aspects of human nature.
Contacts: Bārbala Simsone, firstname.lastname@example.org
A Man’s Heart
Rīga, Zvaigzne ABC
All rights available
Zane Radzobe, about A Seal in Red Vax // Diena.lv, 2009 [LV]
Annija Ķepale, Vīrieša sirds noslēpums, review of A Man's Heart // Ubi Sunt, University of Latvia, 2017 [LV]
Andrejs Vīksna, Vīrieša sirds anatomija, review of A Man's Heart // Online magazine Satori, 2017 [LV]
Anda Buševica, Caur mirkli no mūžības, review of Camera Obscura // LA.lv, 2013 [LV]
Bārbala Simsone, Vēstures pils tumšā istaba, review of Camera Obscura // Diena.lv, 2013 [LV]
Guntis Berelis, Jaunklasicisms Jāņa Lejiņa manierē, review of A Seal in Red Vax // Diena.lv, 2001 [LV]
2012, Kilograms Kultūras Award for Camera Obscura
2009, the Annual Latvian Literature Award for A Seal in Red Vax III. Runes
2004, the Annual Latvian Literature Award for A Seal in Red Vax II. The King