The Same River
The first English translation of a major European literary figure and Nobel Prize nominee's most significant work of prose to date, this tense, cerebral, fascinating novel is the perfect introduction to Jaan Kaplinski.
A semi-autobiographical Bildungsroman, set in the early 1960s, this novel narrates the efforts of Kaplinski's youthful alter ego to lose his innocence and attain sexual and mystical knowledge. The 20-year-old protagonist finds an unofficial teacher in a retired theologian and poet, who is out of favor with the communist authorities. After a summer spent in intellectual and erotic soul-searching, the sexual and political intrigues finally overlap, leading to a quasi-solution. As KGB and university apparatchiks take a close interest in the relation of the two poets, the student outgrows his mentor, who despite accusing the human race of puerility, turns out to be a big and jealous child himself. This novel is seen by many as one of the crowning achievements of a long (and still-flourishing) career in Estonia, but this is the first time this unique work will be widely available in English.