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"We. Latvia. The 20th Century" writers talk about Latvia's history

MARCH 8, 2016

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At a public discussion dedicated to the historical novel series "We. Latvia. The 20th Century", readers and writers agreed that telling the history in the form of quality literature, which encourages reader to think about important moments of Latvian and Latvia’s history, instead of imposing its own interpretation, is the most significant value of the historical novel.


In the last few years, several great works of historical nature have also been published outside the "We. Latvia. The 20th Century" series, for example, the brilliant "101st Kilometer" by Guna Roze, but the idea about retelling the events of one century in 13 books by different authors has become a trademark of this type of literature.


So far, there are five novels in the historical novel series "We. Latvia. The 20th Century" that have come out, and they have created broad discussion with society’s attention growing. One of the novels," The Taste of Lead", was recently staged at the Latvian National Theater and has increased that interest, with the sixth novel in the series, entitled Bogene by Gundega Repše, most likely to continue the exciting conversation on Latvia during the 20th century.


Māris Bērziņš un Osvalds Zebris, two authors whose works have been published as part of the series, took part in a public discussion entitled "New Historism – A New Series of Historical Novels" at the Memorial Museum of Writer Andrejs Upītis, organized by the Department of Latvian and Baltic Studies of the University of Latvia and the Association of Memorial Museums as part of the project "Latvia’s Annual Rings in Literature". Bērziņš pointed out that meetings with readers all over Latvia have shown interest in the interpretation of historical facts, places and people depicted in the novel. There is a possibility of foreign publishers and readers taking interest in the series as well, as several novels are being translated at the moment. Fans of Latvian literature appealed to writers and publishers to encourage the people making cultural policy in Latvia to make the novels available in libraries around Latvia – there are several towns in Latvia where these new novels are not available.

The beginning of the series goes back to 2011 when twelve Latvian writers created a short story collection entitled "We. The 20th Century", a literary version of 20th century Latvia. Latvian writer Gundega Repše was the inspiration behind the project. This book laid the foundations for a more wide-ranging project – a novel series dealing with Latvian history in the 20th century. Invited by Gundega Repše, thirteen Latvian writers agreed to develop the series, with each taking a period in 20th century Latvian history. The primary thread running through the series has been the exhaustive research of documents and other available material, which serve as a basis for the individual literary vision of each writer without having to curb it. The series is published by "Dienas Grāmata". 

Five novels have been published within the series:
"In the Shadow of Rooster Hill", Osvalds Zebris (2014);
"18", Pauls Bankovskis (2014);
"The Taste of Lead", Māris Bērziņš (2015);
"Words Were of No Use" Guntis Berelis (2015);
"Mother’s Milk", Nora Ikstena (2015).

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