Armin Kõomägi arouses differing feelings in his audience, and was even labelled as a horror-story author after his debut collection of short stories titled Amatöör (Amateur, 2005) had appeared. He is a very successful businessman who has become a writer, and brought with him quite suddenly and surprisingly a very different world-view. His novels can be startling, depressing, disgusting, scary and sad, and they are also at the same time very ironic, realistic, paradoxical and absurd. But they are often humorous, too. The author is sometimes probably laughing to himself while writing, and so the reader also bursts into laughter unexpectedly.

Armin Kõomägi was born in Moldova in 1969 of an Armenian mother and an Estonian father, and thinks of Estonia as a very extraordinary and valuable borderland full of undiscovered opportunities and no prospect of becoming simply a dull European country. He has supported the audiovisual art of Estonia with conviction. Sometimes compared to Viktor Pelevin, Kõomägi speaks about the urban world around us, straying into the science fiction genre and constructing something very postmodernist, and quite complicated in structure.

His collection of short stories Amatöör (Amateur, 2005), draws on magic realism, and is dreamlike – depicting either bad or good dreams in a very realistic way, sometimes and suddenly also turning out “right”. Kõomägi has a keen eye for social criticism and probably leaves no-one indifferent. His story from that collection, Anonüümsed logistikud (Logisticians Anonymous), was awarded the Friedebert Tuglas Short Story Award in 2006 and made into a movie in 2008.

Kõomägi´s first novel Pagejad (Runaways, 2009) describes the life of five characters, a drug-addicted businessman, a Barbie-like prostitute, a design student named Gabriel, and two pensioners, a woman and a man all in a weird, tragicomic situation, searching for something they are not able to define, wanting to escape somewhere, living in urban society in the beginning of this century. At the centre of the novel there is a supermarket representing a kind of supremacy of thought. Characterized by playfulness, his text is rich in detail and fascinating descriptions. Kõomägi does not give any answers or solutions. He writes about a moral crisis before the economic crises, and his values are not open to question.

Together with the well-known Estonian photographer and artist Arne Maasik he has completed a rather interesting project under the name of The Seekers: the photographer recorded moments of the writer´s fantasy game in the environment that distinguishes both of them: the urban milieu, this time wordless and silent.

Text by Elle-Mari Talivee

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