Prosaist Rein Põder originates from the southernmost tip of Southern Estonia, and the locale is frequently an enchantingly perceptible landscape in his works as well. Born in 1943, he graduated from the University of Tartu in 1969 as a geographer/hydrologist, and as an oceanographer, he has taken part in expeditions. Rein Põder has worked as an instructor of nature conservation, and as a journalist. He has also been a publisher for quite some time, and has held the post of Editor in Chief of publishing house Eesti Raamat since 1997. As a highly productive writer, he has released novels and short prose, travel notes, reviews, and has translated from Russian and English.
Põder gained renown as a writer of children's and youth literature: his first book was Kingitus (The Present, 1981). The viewpoint of these books is often that of an adult or a grown-up child, reminiscent, and emotionally powerful. Põder's style of writing is romantic, fanciful, impressionist, pensive – and always emphasizes feelings in a suggestive manner that burrows its way into the mind. The writer has repeatedly delved into psychological family stories. Yet, Põder is also a consummate wanderer of time and space. He has always been fascinated by the more distant past as well: Põder has novels and short stories set long ago, works about imagined- and true-life journeys to far-away lands, done in the footsteps of made-up and actual explorers – including Eduard von Toll, Alexander von Middendorff, Friedrich von Wrangell, and others. One of his most memorable treks through time is the ballad-novel Pardiajaja (The Plunderer, 1988), which speaks of a monk journeying through early-17th-century Estonia, a land ravaged by plague and starvation. The character has escaped imprisonment, and strives to survive alone in the forests and bogs, struggling with his surroundings and his very self.
The classic voyage novel Unustatud (Forgotten), published in 2010, tells of a refugee's path from Estonia to the West in 1944, across war-ravaged Germany. The travelers are three Estonians: a photographer, a woman with two children, and a grenadier. Although they roam separately and unbeknownst to each other, their paths cross on several occasions, and the plot ties it into a complete whole – also comprising as a panorama the characters' life in exile, and coming to a close only in Estonia during the 1990's. Forgotten is a highly awarded work. One of the writer's characteristic features is reflected within it once again: searching for clarity from the past, interpreting what has been and capturing its spirit, explaining it for the present day.