I am delighted to be apart of the celebration of Baltic literature that will be the Market Focus at the 2018 London Book Fair that runs from 10-12th April.
As part of the celebrating the Baltic literature I am delighted to welcome to my blog Estonian author Andrei Ivanov and he talks about his life experiences that inspire his novels.
Estonian author, Andrei Ivanov uses his fascinating life experiences as inspiration for his novels. Raised by a Russian, typically Soviet family, but born in Estonia, Ivanov struggled with his Russian and Estonian identity. At the age of 16, Ivanov developed a passion for punk music and its ideology, leading to feelings of discontentment and detachment from his life in Estonia. Ivanov fled the country, and for three years he lived in a refugee camp in Denmark – his most famed novel, Hanuman’s Journey to Lolland (Vagabond Voices, 2018, translated by Matthew Hyde) is based upon this time.
Hanuman’s Journey to Lolland was shortlisted for the Russian Booker Prize (2012) and won the Cultural Endowment of Estonia’s Prize for Russian-Language Literature (2010). Ivanov will be speaking at The London Book Fair as part of The London Book Fair 2018’s Market Focus on the Baltic Countries.
It came naturally that hunger, anger and fear became the forces that propelled my writing, and people, of course, they are inexhaustible sources of inspiration. But it was me and my experiences that inspired me the most. I’m full of surprises – I was born in Estonia but received an alien’s passport, due to my parents both being Russian. I was disillusioned at first, in my parents and their belief in communism; then as a teenager I had contradictions with my father (he was a policeman) and I revolted against the system that he represented.
After the fall of the USSR, I was cynical about the Republic of Estonia, because it tried to force me to be someone that I was not, naturalisation, so to speak, which is reflected in my novels Cinder and The Handful of Dust. It’s not easy to be a Russian in Estonia, because Russians constantly fight amongst themselves, they make mental barricades, terms, rules, requirements. It’s always been like this and it is like that everywhere they stay – they are living like secants! Pro-Russia and Anti-Russia, Russophobic and Russophile – all of them want me to take sides, but I never do, I recoil from them all instead.
I live as a foreigner in my own country, and therefore choose to write the majority of my novels in English. During my time in the Danish refugee camps, English was the shared language used by all – it bought people together from whatever country they originated from. Unlike the Estonia that I had grown up in, the refugee camps were a community that allowed different identities to live together. It’s this aspect that I’ve tried to recreate through my work, using those unique individuals that I met as my muses for the characters in my books.
My thanks to Hannah McMillan at Midas Public Relations for setting up this guest post and the Baltic Books Blog Tour.
Baltic Books Blog Tour – Celebrating Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian literature at the 2018 London Book Fair.