More translations of Latvian literature abroad


2019, March 27

More translations of Latvian literature abroad

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Books of Latvian authors have been translated into Estonian, Finnish and Ukrainian languages.

Inga Gaile’s “The Glass Shards” has been translated into Estonian by Aive Mandel and published by Loomingu Raamatukogy as “Klaas”. Set in the 1930s Latvia, “The Glass Shards” is a story of a young woman – a neuropsychological patient pregnant with the child of her attending physician who came to Latvia from Germany. She is a daughter of a mayor and her parents worry that their daughter’s presence at home will negatively impact their public image, thus she is kept in the hospital. Inga Gaile explains that the authoritarian regime of Karlis Ulmanis is a time in Latvian history which is associated with order, tradition and economical success. Although the atmosphere in “The Glass Shards” is seemingly calm, uncomfortable truths and events that do not match the ruling majority’s understanding of what is right and wrong were avoided, ignored or silenced. According to Gaile, this unfortunately still occurs in society nowadays.

Another translation into Estonian by Ilze Tālberga and Contra is Nora Ikstena’s famous “Emapiim” (Soviet Milk), published by Hunt Kirjastus. This novel considers the effects of Soviet rule on the individual. The central character in the story tries to follow her calling as a doctor. But then the state steps in. She is deprived first of her professional future, then of her identity, and finally of relationship with her daughter. Yet just beneath the surface lies something more positive: the story of three generations of women, and the importance of a grandmother giving her granddaughter what her daughter is unable to provide – love, and desire for life.

Ukrainian publishing house Tverdina recently published a translation of Jānis Akuraters’ “The Burning Island”, translated by Lina Melnik. The story, first published in 1912 in Latvia, is about a man who returns to the village where he was born and raised. He wants to relive his youth memories of falling in love with his schoolmate Ruta. In this story Akuraters uses language of romanticism, impressionism and symbolism. Many have noted that the description of nature and environment resembles the hometown of the author.

“The Personal Latvia. Stories from the 20th Century” by Atis Klimovičs and edited by Inese Zandere has been translated into Finnish by Annika Suna and published by Rozentāls-seura ry as “Silakaa ja muita jumalan ihmeitä”. This book is a unique and photographic depiction of Latvian history of the 20th Century through different perspectives – a history of Latvia told as individual personal stories. According to Klimovičs, in every person’s conception of history, there are blank spaces that can only be filled with stories of another person, and it was his task to collect and tell at least some of them.