Rein Raud

"The Death of the Perfect Sentence" longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award

The English edition of "The Death of the Perfect Sentence", translated by Matthew Hyde and published by Vagabond Voices, has been longlisted for the 2019 International Dublin Literary Award together with such authors as Arundhati Roy, Daniel Kehlmann, Jenny Erpenbeck, Jennifer Egan, John Banville, Roddy Doyle, Paul Auster, Richard Flanagan and Salman Rushdie, to name but a few.

The award is an initiative of Dublin City Council and is administered by Dublin City Libraries. Nominations are made by invited libraries throughout the world on the basis of literary merit. The full longlist and more information is available here.

The Last One Out

The last book out by me is literally "The Last One Out", a political thriller with science fiction elements, arriving just as the pre-election rallies are about to start in Estonia - an investigation about the mysteries that surround the brutal murder of a fictional prime minister, who has been the first one in the history of restored Estonia with so much support that he was able to form a government consisting solely of his own party…

Viimane kustutab tule kaas

The Minotaur in English

An English translation of my early play "The Minotaur" (1988) has just appeared in "Labyrinthus", a volume dedicated to the work of the Lithuanian contemporary artist Dainius Liškevičius. The book has been published by Lapas publishing house in Vilnius, simultaneously in Lithuanian and English. Here there is more about the book, which is a work of art by itself, with numerous illustrations of Liškevičius' work and texts both by himself and other authors. The English translation of the play, by Adam Cullen, was commissioned specially for this book - Liškevičius has told me that the Lithuanian translation of the play, initially published in the 1990s, has been a strong inspiration for him while he was working with the projects collected in the book and he therefore wanted it to appear in the English version as well.


"Practices of Selfhood" published in Turkish

The Ayrinti publishing house in Istanbul, famous for its uncompromising commitment to pluralistic left-liberal values, has just recently announced the publication of "Practices of Selfhood", translated by Mehmet Ekinci.


London talks

The programme of the London Book Fair has now been announced and here is the list of those where I will be participating: a discussion with David Szalay, one of my favourite British authors,
as well as a dialogue with the Lithuanian novelist Kristina Sabaliauskaite and a panel discussion with several British and Baltic colleagues. But there is more good news for everyone with an interest in Estonian literature: immediately after the LBF there will be a two-day festival called EstLitFest, with quite a few events, including one where I will be talking to another acclaimed British author - Tony White.

"Practices of Selfhood" published in Portuguese

practices of selfhood portuguese
Publishing house Zahar in Rio de Janeiro has just announced the publication the Portuguese translation of Practices of Selfhood, which we co-wrote with Zygmunt Bauman. The translation is by Carlos Alberto Medeiros. Zahar ranks among the most respectable publishing houses in Brazil and is noted both for academic literature and for classics as well as other literary works of high quality. The two other books published by Zahar this month are by Søren Kierkegaard and Jules Verne.

"The Death of the Perfect Sentence" now available in Russian

The Russian edition of "The Death of the Perfect Sentence" has just been published by KPD in tranlsation by Nikolai Karayev (who translated also "The Reconstruction").

Representing Estonia at the London Book Fair

It is now official: I am going to be one of the four writers going to represent Estonia at the London Book Fair in April this year, in the framework of the focus region programme. The company is very good: Maarja Kangro, Andrei Ivanov and Mihkel Mutt. The details of the programme are not available yet, but I am quite sure the fair will be worth a visit if you happen to be around.

"Meaning in Action" published in Estonian


The Tallinn University Press has just published an Estonian translation of Meaning in Action by Anne Lange.

"A gripping and provocative read that can be recommended to anyone interested in culture" - Prof.Mikhail Lotman, Tallinn University/University of Tartu.

2017: Summary

In addition to Bell and Hammer, this year saw the publication of two further books by me. The first of these is a textbook on world literature for Estonian high schools, and by "world" I mean world. It was my condition when I undertook this work that I will not have to restrict myself to the official school programme, which contained the names of 40 authors, all male, all but one white. The book is thus quite different than what is normally published under
such a title: it obviously covers the development of Western literatures, but also the Islamic world, the Indian subcontinent, China and Japan. I have also tried to show how the different parts of the world have influenced each other throughout ages - how, for example, Indian narratives have appeared in Western lore (mediated through Iran), or how Western love poetry owes much of its spirit to Arabic models. And, of course, there are chapters documenting the role of women authors around the world as well. The early phases of Estonian literature are also a part of this book, and these, too, I have tried to put into a broader context, for example, by letting the students know that the Young Estonia literary group established in the early years of the 20th century was not a local phenomenon, but very much a part of a broader trend originating in Young Italy, Young Germany and many others. I hope that the schools using this book will actually discuss all the chapters and not only those that are more pertinent to the official programme.
The other book published this year is a translation of poems by Kestutis Navakas, a very interesting Lithuanian author.
Kala peeglis
I've had the collection entitled 100two (with 102 poems in it) on my shelf since it appeared in 2013, but never got around to read it until this year. Eerily beautiful, rhythmically challenging, with images mingling throughout the book, it is one of the best poetic contemporary books of poetry that I have read over the recent years. A few translations soon grew into a volume, which contains about half of the collection and a talk we had. It is entitled A Fish in the Mirror, after a few lines from the first poem.
Several new translations of my own work appeared as well: The Reconstruction in English and Lithuanian, The Death of the Perfect Sentence in English and Latvian. I also appeared at the Vilnius Book Fair and the first European Literature Festival in Tokyo. There I had the opportunity to discuss my work with Prof.Mitsuyoshi Numano from the University of Tokyo as well as the honour of doing the European keynote speech, followed by the Japanese keynote speech by the poet, world-traveller and anthologist Natsuki Ikezawa.
Academically, most of this year was spent in the Free University of Berlin as a guest professor. In Berlin I also organised a philosophy workshop under the title of "Old solutions, new problems", where we discussed the ways how the challenges of the present - from climate change and the emergence of artificial intelligence to post-truth - can be analysed in the context of well-forgotten old philosophical arguments and debates. The "meeting of philosophies" of last year also turned out to be a first in a (hopefully longer) series: a second event of the same kind was organised by Dr.Chiara Robbiano in Utrecht to a great success. And - last but not least - this was also the year of the European Association of Japanese Studies triennial conference, this time in Lisbon, and with more than a thousand participants. For me, it was the last one where I was a part of the organising committee as the Immediate Past President of the organisation.

2016: Summary

In addition to Meaning in Action, a summary of years of research on cultural theory, I published a poetry collection entitled The Heavy Boots of Dreambirds, my fifth. There had been a rather long pause before this one, as my last poetry collection, Two Candles, had come out already in 1990. When I now look back to my first four books of poetry, I'd probably retain a few poems from each, but on the whole I don't think of them very highly. I started to write poetry again during a time that I had more peace and quiet than usual and took to translating some of my favourite authors (e.e.cummings, William Carlos Williams, Paul Celan). Somehow they managed to wake the poet up in me, even though what I write is not similar to any of them, as they aren't to each other.
I wanted the book to be a bit like a notebook on the one hand - a bit like the one I used for writing the poems down - but also a book of which individual readers have to cut the pages open themselves, so that the process of getting closer to the text would be experienced as an act. So I was really
happy to read what Doris Kareva wrote about it: "The Heavy Boots of Dreambirds is one of those books that I read for many times, and just for the sake of interest from three different copies, which I opened with three different blades, differently each time. I wanted to know whether such a ritual might somehow influence the reading. It does, as it prepares the reader in a different way each time. Lets her notice different moments, see new angles, understand other facets. A beginner might use up three knives to open an oyster as well: the first one breaks, the second one becomes blunt, the third one might open it up."
The year was also the one when my first translated book appeared in English (The Brother), The Death of the Perfect Sentence was published in Finnish by Like, and The Reconstruction in Danish by Jensen&Dalgaard. So I appeared at the Ordkraft Book Fair in Aalborg, at the Helsinki and Turku book fairs and also toured Finland during the Estonian Literature Week. Academically, I participated in a workshop on Shinran, Heidegger and Levinas at the University of California (Berkeley) and the East-West Philosophers Conference at the University of Hawaii with a paper on Dōgen's views on nature, did a keynote speech at a Japanese Studies conference at the Open University of Hong Kong as well as gave a paper on Karatani's political philosophy in a workshop at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The Revue Internationale de Philosophie published a piece by me, a critical reading of Zygmunt Bauman's views on multiculturalism. Most importantly, however, I organised a "meeting of philosophies", supported by the Toshiba International Foundation, where specialists of various aspects of Western philosophy (from pre-Socratics to Deleuze, neurophilosophy to quantum theory) and Japanese thought came together to discuss their similarities and differences. As we came to agree, there are more of the former than the latter.