Ervin Õunapuu is a prose writer, scriptwriter and film director, playwright and an artist well known for his theatre sets and surrealist water-colours. In 1996 he published his first novel Olivia. Meistriklass (Olivia. Master Class), which immediately elevated him to the position of a cult writer for his audience. This way he placed himself right into the centre of the Estonian literary scene. Since his debut novel, Ervin Õunapuu has published short stories in various magazines, and in 1999 his first collection of short stories, Eesti gootika (Estonian Gothic) appeared, which is a far cry from conventional realism. A good example here is the short story Väike Lilli Noarootsist (Little Lilli from Noarootsi), which earned its author the prestigious Friedebert Tuglas Short Story Award. In 1999 Õunapuu also published the grotesque spy novel Teie mälestuseks, kes iganes te olete ja kus asute (In Memory of You, Whoever and Wherever You Are, 1999).

Ervin Õunapuu was born in 1956 in Käru, right in the middle of Estonia, and studied at Tartu Art School. An independent thinker, he writes sharp, tragic things turning into grotesque, but often has the touch of the absurd accompanying the vivid visions. Õunapuu is an artist – a painter with oil and water colours and a very prolific stage designer – and film-maker, script writer and producer as well, and his written prose also has a very clear, vivid visual level. His style is strong, trenchant, not nice, but humorous, with his vivacious horrifying fantasy.

Õunapuu´s new books never face the possibility of remaining unnoticed – his impetuous visions attract attention because of his purpose of trying to shake the basic beliefs that have turned into stone – for example, he constantly takes all religious systems with a grain of salt. This purpose is well reflected in his novels Väike palveraamat (The Little Prayer Book, 2000), and Sinu teejuht ristiusku (Your Guide to Christianity, 2003), the last one in epistolary form. He is very sensitive to the problems of society, a keen critic of it, and somehow his volumes of the Estonian Gothic stories have this essence: he could be also described as a warning author. His weird, startling and grim book of letters full of constructive soundness and black entrancing humour, entitled Surmaminejad lasevad tervitada (Morituri te salutant, 2000), consists of fifty farewell letters written by persons having committed suicide. Each one could be torn out from the book on the dotted line and the spaces for names have been left empty. The author has said this reflects his attitude towards suicide and hopes no one having read the book would want to kill him- or herself.
The second part of Õunapuu´s Estonian Gothic stories was published in 2004, followed by the third (Meie igapäevane jää – Our Daily Ice) in 2006 and brought to an end in 2010 with Lauavestlused (Table Conversations), a fictitious fragmentary archive richly illustrated (with photographs) of Martin Maria Kull, the Holy Father, a mystification in an imposing form.

His literary works have been translated into English, Greek, Armenian, Latvian, French, Swedish, German, Finnish, Hungarian and Russian.


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