As an author of psychological, experimental prose, Raudam´s works have been characterized as ‘psychohistory’. His prose is fragmentary and playful, often drawn to absurd, rich in intertextuality, warm and thoroughly ethical. He is a radical, very text-sensitive painter with words, eager to use montage and collage.
Toomas Raudam was born in 1947 in the little central Estonian town of Paide, and is by education an English language specialist. Raudam belonged to the Wellesto society founded in the late nineteen-eighties, manifesting the ideas of nationhood, opposing Russification and turning its face decidedly to Europe. He has worked in the library, as an editor at the Tallinnfilm film studio, as a literary consultant in the theatre, in the newspapers and in a writer´s museum (of Eduard Vilde). Since 1997 he has been a professional writer.
Raudam began publishing short stories in 1968 and with a book Anti jutud (Anti´s Stories) made his debut in 1983. He is, from the beginning, not an easy writer; quite the contrary - he demands a lot. Complicated style, allusions, associations on a language level, quotations from other literary works all make the reader alert, and the text is still very enjoyable. The depth of memory is one of the keywords of his texts: remembering and analysing things, impressions and thoughts recalled. He has a playful way of borrowing ideas, moulding them, making them questionable, and explaining already existing texts in his own way.
Tarzani seiklused Tallinnas (Tarzan´s Adventures in Tallinn, 1991) is a parody full of joy from playing with all kinds of text levels: all kinds of versions derived from the myth of Tarzan, placing the plot it in the middle of Tallinn in the year 1968. At the end even the authors´ biographies are changed over.
In the beginning Raudam´s scene was mostly a little Estonian post-war town. Raudam is highly autobiographical and some of his favourite topics tend to be repeated, such pain, or illness – often it is the diabetes bearing the message that a condition like this does not mean the end, although it is complicated and therefore makes the understanding of life sometimes different. And he is in search of lost time and lost places.
As early as 1986 in a collection Kirjutab näpuga õhku (Writes in the Air with His Finger) one of the essays is about Marcel Proust, and from here the addiction of this author is detectable: Raudam has confessed that he is a Proustophile. They are alike in their exceptional tenderness, warmth, and lightly humorous attitude.
His book Saint-Prousti vastu (Against Saint-Proust, 2002), subtitled Kolm kõnelust ja üheksa silma (Three Conversations and Nine Eyes), begins as a conversation with the mother of the author; in addition there are conversations with a child and a woman, and is a fascinating attempt to make Proust Estonian. Raudam returns to Proust again in a theoretical study Teie (You, 2003), while writing also about James Joyce and other literary giants. He tells in this essay how to understand Proust, about his suggestiveness and singularity – to arouse interest in Proust, to explore him. Raudam argues there with several scholars who have studied the French writer´s works, while in the book the border between the literary and the theoretical approach remains excitingly enigmatic. Apart from Proust, there are many readers important to him: Scott Fitzgerald, Franz Kafka, Vladimir Nabokov among others. His collection of short stories, Miks Kafka nuttis? (Why Did Kafka Cry?, 2000), grows out of a dramatic episode of a meeting between Kafka and Franz Werfel.
Raudam’s work also includes film scripts, some of them winners of internationay awards. For example, in 2002 the Estonian-Latvian co-production Head käed (Good Hands), directed by Peeter Simm, won the Golden Olive Tree at the European Cinema Festival in Lecce, Italy, and got also a special prize for the screenplay, written by Simm and Raudam.

Text by Elle-Mari Talivee


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