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Five more Latvian books published abroad

2016, December 8

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Last year, five additional works of Latvian literature were published by companies abroad – Inese Zandere's “Līze Analīze un citi slimnīcas skaitāmpanti” (“Medicine Maddy and Other Hospital Nursery Rhymes”) and  selected works of Rainis in Finland, a collection of poems by Krišjānis Zeļģis in Russia, Jānis Joņevs novel “Jelgava 94” in Slovenia, and a book of poetry “Solo il mare può far rumore” (“Only the sea can make noise”) by Ingmāra Balode in Italy. Three of the publishers and translators of these works shared their thoughts on what made them decide on these particular works by Latvian authors.

The collection “visas tās lietas” (“All those things”, published in Latvian by Mansards) was Krišjānis Zeļģis' début in 2010, nominated for the Annual Latvian Literature Award for best début, and the newspaper “Diena” Annual Award in Culture. This year, the book was translated by Alexander Zapol and published in Russia by “Book Institute”. Its publisher Dmitry Kuzmin explained that this book project was a result of a long-standing collaboration with Alexander Zapol, who has previously been involved in the work with other Latvian poets, for instance, Kārlis Vērdiņš and Marts Pujāts. “Generally, the Russian audience is interested in the fresh news from the poetries of neighbouring countries since some alternative possibilities for the development of Russian poetry might be found there. Naturally, it is a rather small circle consisting mostly of poets themselves, critics and other people professionally involved in literary processes. The current condition of Russian culture is quite unfortunate, therefore it is only within this small circle that any kind of poetry can circulate. However, this circulation is of significant importance for the future of Russian writing,” Dmitry Kuzmin revealed.

The poet Ingmāra Balode has had two collections– “Ledenes, ar kurām var sagriezt mēli” (“Hard Candy that Can Cut Your Tongue”, 2007) and “alba” (2010) – published so far by “Mansards”. Both have been recognized with the Annual Latvian Literature Award for best début and best poetry collection. The collection “Trokšņot drīkst tikai jūra” (“Solo il mare può far rumore”) is a bilingual book of poems selected from both of the previous collections and put out by the Italian publishing house “Damocle Edizioni”. In 2013, this company started a project “Piccola Biblioteca Lettone” (Small Latvian Library), where works of classic and modern Latvian authors were translated into Italian. “Damocle Edizioni“ is very interested in contemporary poetry and considers Ingmāra Balode one of the most interesting and talented poets of these years,” the publisher Pierpaolo Pregnolato told us. The collaboration with the author has been extremely successful according to him: “This collaboration is very positive, which is why during the next Art Night in Venice, scheduled for June 2017, there will be an evening dedicated to Ingmāra Balode, with a reading of her poems both in Latvian and Italian, with the presence of the poet, the translator and the illustrator Margarita Fjodorova who made the cover of the Italian edition of the book. It will be an evening entirely dedicated to the poetry of Ingmāra.” Paolo Pantaleo, the translator of the collection also shared his impressions of the book. “Translating Ingmāra's work  was really exciting. I tried to give into her poetry, to follow it, to retain as much as possible of the clarity and purity of her lines. The book has now been submitted into a couple of literary and poetry competitions and has been well received and praised.”

“Jelgava 94” (published by Mansards in 2013) is Jānis Joņevs first published work of literature, awarded the Annual Latvian Literature Award for best début, the European Union Prize for Literature, and other prestigious awards. This year, the novel “Jelgava 94” (translated as “Metalci '94”) was published by “Miš Publishing” in Slovenia: “Because the strategic decision of the publishing company is to translate excellent books from countries whose literature has not yet been introduced more than marginally to the Slovene public, we are used to translating books from smaller and not very known literatures. Actually, I was informed that this was the first book for young readers translated from Latvian. Slovenia is also a small country affected by the transition so it is not very difficult for Slovene readers to understand this book, some similar things happened here, too,” told the publisher Irena Miš Svoljšak. The translator of Joņevs book, Jedrt L. Maležič shared his experience: “[..] and the more I thought about the plot, the more I realised that translating a Latvian book such as his was quite an ingenious decision in Slovenia, as well, as the 1990s youth (now mostly grown up), as well as today's youth, are able to vividly connect to the subject of “Metalci '94” and simultaneously witness a genuine document of recent history.”

 Inese Zandere is an author of 5 collections of poems and 20 books for children, two-time winner of the Annual Latvian Literature Award, as well as a receiver of the Jānis Baltvilks Prize for children's literature. Her book “Medicine Maddy and Other Hospital Nursery Rhymes” (published by “Liels un mazs” in Latvia, 2012) consists of 15 poems about various stages of a child going through illness and recovery. The book was published in Estonia by  “Tammerraamat” publishing house.

Selected works of the Latvian classic poet and playwright Rainis was published by the Finnish company “Rozentāls-seura ry.”.

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