A glimpse into the Latvian literature!

Žanete V?vere Pasqualini, Literary Agent, shares the USPs of the Latvian literature.


Latvia’s literature is unique for its strong poetic tradition rooted in Latvian folk songs and the important role of poetry in resisting the Soviet occupation during the second half of the 20th century. Partners and publishers abroad have expressed their admiration for Latvia’s current children’s poetry, crucial for children of the ages when the rhythmic flow of language and rhyme outweigh the plot. Poetry as a genre is read in Latvia more than in Europe on average. Proportionally, poetry is also translated and published abroad more often than other forms. The poetic tradition is echoed by prose, drama and other cultural areas – Latvians like telling stories in a poetic, pensive way using many symbols and metaphors. You can find in English the poetry collections of M?rti?šV?rdi?š, Inga Gaile, Inga Piz?ne, Krišj?nisZe??is, Juris Kronbergs, Ieva Flamingo and an incredible project, the little Bicki Books of children’s poetry.

Latvian literary works…

However, when talking about Latvian literature, it is impossible not to also talk about history – it has significantly influenced both the content and the form of Latvian literary works. A great amount of non-fiction and fiction has since been dedicated to various stages and aspects of recent Latvian history. Among them, the most internationally acclaimed has been Nora Ikstena’s novel “Soviet Milk” (2015), a novel about the relationship between a mother and daughter living in difficult times when there is little freedom. The title refers to the fact that the mother has renounced forming a vital bond with her daughter as, unwilling to pass onto her newborn daughter her depression and sense of oppression, she has refused to breastfeed her; a powerful testament to the impact that political regimes can have on human relationships. “Soviet Milk” was published alongside 12 other novels in a series specially dedicated to 20th century history “We. Latvia. The 20th Century” within which each writer wrote a novel on a specific decade across this timespan.

The greatest prose sensation of 2020 was Andris Kalnozols’ novel “Call Me Calendar” which was touching in its simplicity consisting in a diary of a young man with a hard to define syndrome who perceives the world in simple yet such truthful terms of what is good and important and what is not, a subtle sense of humor shining through the whole novel.

The literary revelation of 2019 was the short YA novel The Boy Who Saw in the Dark by Rasa Bugavi?ute-P?ce, the story of a boy growing up in a family of blind people who always socialize with other blind people and who struggles to be carefree as he grows up, always trying too hard to be a perfect son and not disappoint his parents as from a very young age he feels responsible for his family.

Speaking of children’s literature, we should mention that in 2022 Lu?ze Pastore’s book “The Laime Children” inspired by the life story of the Latvian adventurer and Venezuelan national hero, Aleksandrs Laime, illustrated by Evija Pint?ne, won the “New Horizons Award” in Bologna Book Fair. The picture book “The Kiosk” by Anete Melece, which tells how it is never too late to chase your dreams, has travelled across more than 20 languages. “Mufa” by Juris Zvirgzdi?š, illustrated by Reinis P?tersons, is the story of a white rhino who can speak and read, faces common social problems and learns about world culture heritage, was a Strega Prize finalist in Italy in 2020. Other stars of Latvian contemporary illustration are El?na Brasli?a who collaborates with many foreign publishing houses and R?ta Briede who teaches illustration at the Latvian Art Accademy, inspiring young illustrators to develop their ideas into proper picture books.

Form ore info,visit web page www. Latvianliterature.lv

Žanete V?vere Pasqualiniis Literary Agent representing Latvian authors, illustrators and publishers at Latvian Literature Platform and Latvian- English language translator.

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