Explore the literary influences of European, Russian and Nordic cultures on contemporary Baltic authors. Three leading Baltic writers – Mihkel Mutt, Nora Ikstena, and Kristina Sabaliauskaitė – join us to discuss the literary influences of European, Russian and Nordic cultures on their work.
Mihkel Mutt is an Estonian writer and columnist. He was born in Tartu, Estonia in 1953 to a family of teachers. Mutt studied literature and journalism at the local University of Tartu. He began his career as a theatre and literary critic as well as a parodist, and his literary debut transpired in the late 1970s. Since then, he has published close to 40 books in all genres except poetry and long epic.
Mutt has translated into his native Estonian authors such as Tom Stoppard and Arnold Wesker, and is a versatile columnist on domestic and world politics. He has held a variety of jobs ranging from journalist to dramaturg to propaganda boss at the Estonian Foreign Ministry, etc. Before retiring in 2016, he was the editor-in-chief of the Estonian literary monthly, Looming. Mutt has recorded extensive memoires about his stormy life, six parts of which have come out in print. He is convinced one should write about the past before Alzheimer’s or something even worse crushes memory to a pulp.
Mutt is considered one of the most provocative Estonian authors – he is a serious conservative filled with playfulness, who unites in his works a proper English sense of humour and core elements of Estonian culture. His earlier novels, plays, and short stories are characterized by a kind of snobbishness, powerful sarcasm, irony, and arrogance à la Huxley.
Now, as a mature author, Mutt has made reporting on history his primary focus – both Estonia’s period of transition from a Soviet republic to the free world, and the ongoing crisis in Europe. Throughout all this, he has not lost his biting irony, nor his hyperbolic wit.
Monday, 9 April
Mihkel Mutt, Nora Ikstena and Kristina Sabaliauskaitė
Being Baltic: At the Crossroads of Influence
Wednesday, 11 April
Mihkel Mutt, Tomas Venclova, Kristina Sabaliauskaitė and Sathnam Sanghera. Chaired by Peter Pomerantsev
Sinking Europe? European Narratives in Times of Change
Is Europe sinking, rising, or just changing? We discuss this with Mihkel Mutt, author of several highly-praised books on Estonia’s transition from a Soviet republic to part of the free world; Lithuanian Kristina Sabaliauskaitė, whose historical novels look at the changing state of Europe across the 17th and 18th centuries; Tomas Venclova, whose poetry has explored the issues of life under totalitarian rule; and writer Sathnam Sanghera whose work as a journalist and a writer engages with a changing Europe.