Holger Kaints is the first receiver of the Wordwormer Prize (in 2009) for the best and the most fascinating book having appeared between the two Feasts of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Estonia. He is absolutely original both in his style and his choice of topic, making it impossible to leave the book aside.

Born in 1957, Kaints, literary reviewer and former bookshop keeper, now a professional writer, debuted late. His first novel Teekond mäetipu poole (Journey Towards the Summit, 2003) was subtitled as fantastic tale. There the utopian society is the still existing Soviet Union in year 2012, having survived the dissolution. The book, at the same time a pastiche of the Soviet-time fantasy fiction, almost nostalgic and fan-fiction-like with lots of references to the Soviet authors, is a weird simulacrum of a non-existing world made questionable even in the book itself. Here the facts known from history and the fictional ones are combined, the world is made relative and constantly laughed at. The grotesque parody is shown to the reader through the eager eyes of young schoolboys, openly asking how it was possible that such kind of society worked at all, why and if at all people believed in such system and how they were made to believe. Kaints dissects the political theatre of past Soviet commonness, holiday meetings with red flags and the gray everyday reality. But, in addition, the novel is a wonderfully fascinating adventure story of four schoolboys who even meet the yeti.

In Lennukivaatleja (Airplane Spotter, 2009) Kaints writes a story of today that is as intense as a thriller, but more a picture of the ways of thinking, odd turnings of jumping to unexpected conclusions, the flight of the imagination. The protagonist, former munition worker of a Soviet factory producing military goods, now almost asocial and jobless, lives in a mostly Russian dacha district near Tallinn airport and believes to have found a black site, a secret prison of the Americans. He spends his days watching the planes, trying to make out which of them are transporting prisoners. While investigating the problem, he finds himself to be pursued and his growing fears and suspicions rise the tension with every page. Absorbed in the twisted reality analysed still so thoroughly, other problems emerge: the metastases of the Soviet time in nowadays society, the question, how much, if ever, man needs the society at all, and how much a society in a modern state really cares about its outcasts.

Text by Elle-Mari Talivee


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