Estonia to Take Centre Stage at Helsinki Book Fair
An unusually broad range of Estonian literature, culture, science and art will be presented at the Helsinki Book Fair at the end of October. The main focus will be on contemporary literature, topical historical and societal themes. Estonia will be the Fair’s theme country.
The Book Fair will play host to nearly fifty eminent figures from various fields, beginning with Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia. Numerous authors will also attend, including leading lights in contemporary literature, the heavyweights of the Estonian intelligentsia, bestselling authors and performers. In Finland, this year could be termed the year of Estonian literature. The spring and autumn will see a record amount of Estonian literature, totalling over twenty works, published in Finnish.
In addition to writers, several ministers, diplomats and politicians, many of whom are also writers, will be heard at the Book Fair. In seminars, leading experts and scientists in various fields will discuss history and literature, among other issues.
New openings in Finnish
New translations of Estonian literature offer a versatile overview of contemporary Estonian writing. With the exception of two deceased authors of classics, all authors of these newly translated works will appear at the Book Fair. For many, this is the first time their work has been translated into Finnish.
They include Ene Mihkelson, one of Estonia’s most respected and award-winning writers. From among her numerous works, the newly translated book is Katkuhaud, published in Finnish as Ruttohauta (‘The Plague Grave’). Its topic is recent Estonian history. The first Finnish translation to be published of Mari Saat’s work, Lasnamäe lunastaja (Lasnamäen lunastaja, ‘The Redeemer of Lasnamäki’) depicts the spiritual and societal life of Russians in Estonia. Likewise, Olavi Ruitlane’s successful Naine, translated into Finnish as Nainen (‘Woman’), is the first of his works to be published in Finnish. Viivi Luik is already known to Finnish readers. Her new novel is the autobiographical Varjuteater, now published under the Finnish title Varjoteatteri (‘The Shadow Theater’).
The detective genre is represented by rock musician Mihkel Raud and Indrek Hargla, previously known as top science fiction author. Both are being published in Finnish for the first time.
Poetry and jazz
A delightfully large number of poetry volumes have been translated and published. Their authors include prose and poetry writer Tõnu Õnnepalu, writer and publisher Wimberg and poet and literary journalist Doris Kareva.
The poets Asko Künnap, Karl Martin Sinijärv and Jürgen Rooste will present Estonian haikus at the Book Fair. They have reshaped the traditional haiku pattern into a form which better suits the Estonian language. Their volume of poetry, Eesti haiku, will be published in the autumn under the Finnish title Vironhaikuja – Aika sattuu (‘Estonian Haikus – Time Hurts’), translated by Hannu Oittinen.
A special issue of the poetry magazine Tuli & Savu will showcase the works of ten contemporary Estonian poets.
On 27 October, the musician Siim Aimla’s band and a group of poets will take to the stage in the restaurant Lämpö, in Suvilahti. Music has been specifically composed for their texts. Poet and poems will feature in this concert as one of the orchestra’s instruments.
The ten or so poets participating in the Book Fair will read their poetry at a literature festival held on 29 October in the Estonia centre Viro-keskus, after which Estonian musicians will perform.
Recent history and literature
Among other things, seminar topics include Estonia’s recent history, literature and topical issues in society.
Topics reflected upon in the Demokratian alut ja loput seminar (‘Beginnings and endings of democracy’) include themes such as how we should regard the current emergence of pan-European populist movements in light of Estonian and Finnish experiences of democracy. Speakers include historian, ambassador Matti Maasikas, historian, Minister of Defence Mart Laar, Professor Seppo Zetterberg and historian Toomas Hiio. The traumas characterising recent Estonian history will be discussed by figures such as political researcher Iivi Anna Masso, Professor Marju Lauristin and writer Sofi Oksanen.
Other seminar topics include the spirit of Estonia in Finland, Estonian people around the world, the role of Russians in Estonian literature, a masterclass in literature, as well as memory and autobiography.
Estonia’s booth at the fair, the Black Cube, will be the landmark of the Book Fair. The Black Cube will be about 9 metres high, its minimalist look and black colour bringing aesthetic serenity to this colourful event.
In the Black Cube’s calm atmosphere it will be possible to follow various events, from author interviews to Finno-Ugric wisdom. The area will also host exhibitions and the popular TV show Runo will be projected onto the walls. A competition with the theme of Estonian haiku will be run at the Black Cube.
Estonia’s Book Fair booth covers around 200 m2. This consists of an open square serving as a book shop and display area, and the Black Cube.
The theme country programme is being organised by the Estonian Ministry of Culture, the Estonian Writers’ Union, the Estonian Publishers’ Association and the Estonian Literature Centre.
The Helsinki Book Fair will be held between 27.–30.10.2011 at the Helsinki Exhibition & Convention Centre.
Tuula Isoniemi, PR Agent Helsinki Book Fair
Tel. +358 500 841937, email@example.com