Viivi Luik, born in 1946 in Viljandimaa, arrived on the Estonian literary scene as an eighteen-year-old Wunderkind on the crest of an excited wave of poetry in the nineteen-sixties. Her very first collection of poems Pilvede püha (A Holiday of Clouds, 1965) was noted and approved by the critics. The next collections captivated audiences with their musicality and very special poetry, often characterized by perceiving the world and reflecting feelings through nature, its mystic beauty, clarity and all-embracing fragility in words. More than ten have been published by now, attesting to her sensitive, sensual perception, and she has been compared by critics to a canary in a coal mine, sensing every change in the air.
Luik´s novels Seitsmes rahukevad (The Seventh Spring of Peace, 1985) and Ajaloo ilu (The Beauty of History, 1991), which followed her poetry, struck her audience with their highly poeticised language and the novelty of their subject matter. The first of these novels was a like a shock, observing country life in post-war Soviet Estonia seen through a child’s implacable eyes, depicting the misery of those years, the frightening “forest brothers”, absurdity, politically sensitive topics, and, as well, breaking the myth of happy Soviet childhood while depicting the child protagonist without idealizing – with her fears and honesty of feeling. The Seventh Spring of Peace is one of the most outstanding Estonian novels that has appeared – because of its interesting representation and use of language.
The Beauty of History reflects against the background of a love story the state of mind of Estonians and Latvians during the uprising in Prague in 1968. Both novels have been translated into several foreign languages and were well received.
Having worked as an archivist and librarian, since 1967 Viivi Luik has been a professional writer. Her husband is the writer and diplomat Jaak Jõerüüt, and Luik has lived in Helsinki, New York, Berlin and Rome.
In her poetry the journey from the nature of the countryside to the city has been evident; the contrasts seem to be especially sharp in her excellent poetry for children.
She has often published her polemical essays in the press, and these have dealt with the existence of man and the meaning of art in changing times. Her first collection of essays Inimese kapike (A Locker of One’s Own) contains 24 essays and presentations, some of which have already been published in Scandinavian newspapers or presented to various audiences in Europe. Many of these essays can be read as a background and explanation to her works. The longest text of the book (Seven Women), earlier published in Toronto as a collector’s book, is an exact and compact historical sketch about the major role of women authors in Estonian poetry.
Being an East European, Luik demonstrates herself in an original and poetically fruitful situation: on the border of two worlds, two eras, light and shade. The last contrast also contains all the others – the barbaric zone of darkness, withdrawing to the East, and the past, where light was only for the rich and powerful, are contrasted to modern and plentiful Western world. Luik believes that the end of the century will be accompanied by the birth of new men and new art, which she, like Milan Kundera, envisions to rise on the basis of kitsch. The best essay of this collection, Candied Monsters and Diluted Angels, which also caused the most discussion when it was first published, was devoted to this subject. Luik does not analyse or theorise in her essays and presentations. Her texts are inherently characterised by bold expression and an intuitive pursuit of truth, which may, now and then, allow some contradictions, and radiant images, which originate from her poetry. Ice, glass, blood and flesh dominate both her poetry and essays, which the critics have found to be full of childlike frankness, prophecy and an adventurer’s challenge to obsolete ways of thinking. Luik´s second collection of essays, Kõne koolimaja haual (A Speech on the Grave of A Schoolhouse) was published in 2006.

In 2010 Luik´s novel Varjuteater (Shadow Theatre) was published and received as a literary event of the year. The book of a life-long journey to Rome with glimpses at intermediate stops won the first award in the travelogue competition in 2011, but is not at all a classical travel book. It is a fatalistic story, and while travelling and aiming to reach the Eternal City, the author is at the same time searching and longing for home. This is somehow one of the conditions of writing a good travelogue; and yet, Luik´s book is much more: it is said to unite the spatial and temporal eternities, colourful and suggestive as the memoirs could be, and definitely written by a poet. This book was complemented by an interview (with Hedi Rosma) in book-form, Ma olen raamat (I am a Book, 2010), a profound conversation with a very vital and charismatic creative person.


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