The Reconstruction: Estonian Literary Magazine



The Reconstruction (Novels, Estonian)
Published by Mustvalge Kirjastus, 2012, pp. 264

This is a story about seeking security and longing for certainty, a story about searching for truth and universal answers, about searching but not finding. Having doubts, while also yearning for absolute truth, can lead us to estrangement from reality. It slowly cuts us off from our everyday life and from the people who love us. Where does dedication end and obsession begin?

Five years after losing his daughter Anni, Enn Padrik finds out that he has cancer. As he doesn’t have much time left in this world, he decides to finally do something he should have done a long ago. Finding out the whole story behind his daughter’s suicide becomes Enn’s last mission. All he knows is that it was a collective suicide in a community of intellectuals, probably committed for religious reasons. He travels around Estonia and even goes to France to meet people who had known Anni. The process of patching different memories and stories into one whole turns out to be more complicated than Enn thought. But little by little the start starts to emerge. At the end of his quest, Enn comes to understand that it doesn’t matter whether what we believe in is actually true or not. What matters is how these beliefs change us, and what kind of people we become by believing what we believe.

The story is very thought-provoking but, despite the heaviness of the theme, it’s not moralizing or otherwise patronizing to its readers. It’s a deeply psychological novel, written in a gripping way. Realistic and accurately described characters make the story plausible, even though problems with religious sects are not common in Estonian society.

Rein Raud (b. 1961) received the literary prose award of the Estonian Cultural Endowment’s Literature Foundation in 2012 for The Reconstruction. But this is not his first award-winning book. In 2005 he was honored with the same award for his novel Hector and Bernard. His novel Vend (The Brother) gained him wide acclaim as well, and in 2009 he was recognized with the Eduard Vilde Literary Award for the novel. Besides his novels, Rein Raud has also published poetry collections, short stories and plays. He is commonly known as the author of numerous academic publications. In his academic career, Raud has particularly focused on cultural theory. His special research interests are Japanese literature and philosophy. This is also reflected in his wide range of activities as a translator of poetry from Japanese into Estonian.

Text by Maire Iro

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