Novels and collections of short stories (in Estonian)

The Death of the Perfect Sentence 2015
Set during the last months of Soviet rule in Estonia, this book is a spy story and a love story at the same time, featuring both KGB agents and freedom fighters as well as normal people caught between the cogwheels of history. The story takes simultaneously place in Tallinn, Helsinki, Stockholm and Leningrad (which is what St.Petersburg was called at the time). The fast-paced narrative is interrupted occasionally by the author's comments in text boxes, bridging the present with those times.
Translations of this book are forthcoming in 2016, in Finnish and English.

Older Fatter More Wicked 2013
This book is a little bit like "Little Things That Matter", a collection of stories, most of them rather short, with sharp twists and events not quite fitting into the rules of reality. We get to visit a world without spoons, accidentally stumble upon a beauty competition of dead people in the internet and step into a shop that treats all its customers equally regardless of how much money they have. And a few pieces of essayistic reflection among them give us an inkling why this is how everything has to be.

The Reconstruction 2012
Annual Prize of Best Novel

For five years, Enn Padrik has postponed the investigation into the apparently religiously inspired suicide of his daughter and her friends at a commune near Viljandi, but now he cannot do it any longer. He has to travel all around Estonia and even to France to talk to those who might remember anything relevant. Some of these people seem to have been waiting for him, others refuse to talk. And little by little, a bigger and quite unexpected picture starts to emerge…
From late 1970s till 2011, the book spans the lives of two generations, the changes in the world at large and the Estonian society in particular, the transition from a world of rights and wrongs to a world where most things are neither, but the yearning for truths as absolute as possible still won't go away.
Reviewed by Estonian Literary Magazine
In Finnish
In Danish

Hotel Amalfi 2011
Shortlisted for the Annual Prize of Best Novel

We hear the story of a reasonably successful and extremely selfish owner of a small bureau of interior design, who is unexpectedly approached by two weirdish clients. Their wish is to have him build the ideal hotel. And at the same time, the woman of his dreams enters his life… An artist is awakened in him, and it remains to be seen if the joint passions of creativity and love are able to transform a mediocrity into a better human being.

The Brother 2008
Eduard Vilde Prize


A stranger, wearing a large hat and a long black cloak, arrives in a small nameless town in tight grip of a group of corrupt men, claiming to be the long-lost brother of a young woman, who has been cheated out of her inheritance... And suddenly everything starts to change. But this storyline of a spaghetti Western of sorts is not the main reason for writing the book. I am genuinely proud of "The Brother", because finally I have managed to write a narrative in a language that I like, a language that is both graceful enough and tense enough at every moment. This book was a real pleasure to write and it kept me from going insane with all the effort that university administration needed.
In Lithuanian
In Russian
English translation forthcoming in 2016 from Open Letter Books

Hector and Bernard 2004
Annual Prize of Best Novel

This started as an effort to write philosophy as philosophy was formerly written, that is, without a long list of literature in the end and precise quotations for every thought. All of that is not there in most of what we call philosophy in a philosophy class. Plato could do it, Diderot could do it, Berkeley could do it, so why cannot I? However, it soon became evident that the figures needed to be more three-dimensional than I had initially thought they would be, and they needed to have a story to tell in addition to the thoughts they shared. So this became an "essay-novel", a genre of some promise… A former professor of philosophy who has retired from public life and a young poet with a very Bohemian lifestyle are engaged in conversations on whatever subject comes to their mind, until finally it transpires that both of them have to overcome the borders of their worlds in order to be able to help each other out of their respective existential predicaments.
Reviewed by World Literature Today


Little Things That Matter 2000

This is one of the books I've enjoyed writing most, and I am very glad there is a sizable chunk of it available in English. Most of these little bits and pieces have been written and jotted down between other activities, at those moments of waiting that occasionally make up fairly large grey periods during a day or a week or a month. A word of warning: please don't make the mistake of confounding the speaker of these texts with myself - you'll be surprised, but it has happened.

The Night of the Cuckoos 1995

This book consists of three longer stories. "The Countess de Richter" speaks about a French girl who has married a Baltic German noble and moved in with his relatives, and later inherits the whole estate although all sensible people think she is completely crazy. But she is not. She is just ahead of her time. Because she is a performance artist. In command of a sizable fortune and allied with a wandering madman she finally turns the world around her so completely upside down that it will never be the same again. A German translation of this story by Irja Grönholm is available in estonia 2007,Jahrbuch estnischer Literatur, Dr. Ute Hempen Verlag, Bremen 2007, and a Russian translation by Svetlan Semenenko has appeared in the journal Raduga, 3/1997.
"The Voyeurist" happens in a non-specified country in the 1930s, soon after an empire has been replaced by a republic, and speaks about a man who works in the so-called Ethics department, a place that judges people who have not done anything legally wrong, but passes decisions of guilty or not guilty on ethical grounds, with no direct consequences - but it is supposed that no one would like to appoint to an office of responsibility anyone who has been found guilty. The story starts with a mysterious letter to the protagonist from a childhood friend, which then goes missing; soon the events escalate and centre around an informer, who has denounced his friends to the secret police under the previous regime. No good ending I'm afraid, the parallels with the Estonia of the early 1990s were too obvious for that to be credible.
In the third story, "The Night of the Cuckoos", two hitchhikers get lost and find themselves on a farm, a gathering place of weird people with strange interests, such as a seductive teacher of badminton and Ancient Greek who has to wear large amounts of gold, because otherwise her hair would grow extremely quickly, and a rich dwarf who wears a metallic helmet, owns a house near Oxford and studies the history of the Qumran recluse community. Here perhaps more than in my other stories I have tried to do something irregular: to create people who would be both positive and interesting.

Melchior the Rider 1991

This is the story of a disinherited young nobleman, who has to leave home only with an old saddle, a writing feather and a trumpet, bequeathed to him by his grandfather. He soon meets a heretical monk and a wandering scholar and the three of them live through a series of adventures, slowly finding out that all the troubles and discords in the country have something to do with only one source, a mysterious old man who calls himself the Twin. Compared with most fantasies (of which I had read none at the time of writing) the book is very short, just 200 pages for an awful lot of characters, events and storylines, from which a more talkative author could easily have squeezed out at least twice as much.

Kaupo 1990

A historical novel in the serious sense of the word. Its main hero is a Livonian elder, who was baptised by a missionary after a long illness and later even accompanied him on a trip to Rome, where he was received by the Pope. Traditional history considers him a traitor to his own people, the man guilty for the 700 years of slavery that followed his conversion and the resultant conquest of Livonia and Estonia by the crusaders. But all that was true in retrospect. I can imagine how someone grown up in a little forest village must have felt travelling through Germany and Italy, even if Renaissance was still a long way, and that the promise of this civilisation also for his people must have been rather appealing to him.