Olev Remsu is a prosaist and a teacher of film dramaturgy. Born in Tartu in 1947, he graduated from the University of Tartu in the field of journalism, and finished scenarist- and director courses in Moscow.
The writer debuted with a short novel about the beat generation, Homne karikakar (Tomorrow's Daisy, 1976).
As a fantastic storyteller, both his short stories (often memoirs) and novels, as well as their rather sharp social humor, have sparked attention. The writer is also captivated by very different topics: three directions of these can be more clearly delineated. First of all, Remsu is entranced by the interpretations of historic figures' lives and pivotal points of history in both prose and plays. One of his most memorable novels, titled Haapsalu tragöödia (The Haapsalu Tragedy), speaks almost with ethnographic precision about Estonia's Swedish community during the years 1939–1944. It is a story in the form of diary entries made by Erik Norrmann: a Swedish-Estonian on an island, the telling name of which is "Placeless". There are several senses of placelessness in the novel: firstly, the Swedish community in Estonia was out of place at the end of the 1930's, and secondly, the main character – initially a pastor, but the communist chairman of the village as power shifts – is also out of place within his own society. He is left behind as the Swedes depart for their motherland. Remsu has mentioned both historical background as well as Dostoyevsky's novel The Idiot concerning the character's inception: a bottomless, simple-minded aspiration to do good. The heroine of one novel marries the film-director son of Marshal of the Soviet Union Lavrentiy Beriya; in another, Genghis Khan and Baron Ungern-Sternberg embark on adventures.
Another very particular streak in Remsu's works are travel writings. Having worked in extremely different areas and journeyed around the world extensively, he is a classic of Estonian travel literature in his own way. He is often tugged towards the east: for example, he has crisscrossed China, and published the book Rongiga maailma lõppu: Tallinn–Moskva–Vladivostok (To the End of the World by Train: Tallinn–Moscow–Vladivostok), as well as the reminiscent Minu Neenetsimaa (My Nenetsia, 2010) one year later. In 1999, he took part in a sailing voyage around the world. He has also been called the best opener of the "Russian soul" among local authors. He is an author who is surprising and yanks the reader along, drawing exciting connections, and also interprets through world literature quite a number of things in the lands he has seen.
Thirdly, Remsu's books (also titled picaresque novels) about his boyhood town of Tartu, and especially its wooden residential district of Supilinn – a place that today has partly vanished as such – paint a genuine picture of a band of boys calling themselves the "Musketeers", who were also mentioned briefly in the writer's debut novel. In 2013, one of them – Supilinna poisid (The Supilinn Boys) – received the A.H. Tammsaare Award for Literature.
Remsu has been a director of animated- and documentary films. Nestled among his works are film scripts and plays; he is also a prolific (film) critic. The sharp eye of a filmmaker, seizing the full picture, can be felt throughout the entirety of his writing.