Always wanted to know more about our culture? One of the best ways to do that is to get acquainted with our literature. It’s so rich and versatile that you might get lost in it. The only problem is you have to know the language… Aren’t there any books translated into English? – You might ask. Well, as funny as it may sound, while we have an abundance of foreign literature translated into the Lithuanian, there are only a few Lithuanian works that we can suggest to our English speaking (and reading) friends. So, without further ado, for all the book lovers out there, we present Lithuanian literature that has been translated into the English language.
Starting from the oldest on the list, we have two postmodern writers, two contemporaries – Ričardas Gavelis and Jurgis Kunčinas. The first one is the author of VILNIUS POKER. The book depicting individuals struggling under Soviet rule in the 1970s and 1980s. Here the emphasis is put on the connection between the importance and absurdity of life. The second author is the writer of TŪLA – a tour-like narrative guiding us through Užupis, a bohemian quarter of Vilnius, in the late years of the Soviet era, with its unique inhabitants, painful history, and a tragic love story. Interestingly enough, both narratives unfold in Vilnius and focus on the personal struggle of a man. As these postmodern stories have quite different plotlines, they share more similarities than you can imagine.
Moving on, we find two contemporary women authors – Laura Sintija Černiauskaitė and Kristina Sabaliauskaitė. The first author is the writer of the book called BREATHING INTO MARBLE, which won the 2009 EU prize for Literature. The story is centered on the family, who decides to adopt a troubled young boy, and the hardships they have to face later on. Family and isolation, love and hate, life and death – these are the themes you will come across in the book. Another book by Kristina Sabaliauskaitė. Vilnius. Wilno. Vilna. Three Short Stories – is a collection of works portraying Vilnius in three separate time periods. Each story presents the city of Vilnius in a different light and ironically reflects on our historical and cultural experiences.
If you are a poetry lover, we can recommend something for you as well. CARAVAN LULLABIES, by a contemporary poet Ilzė Butkutė, is a collection of poems from the author’s previous publications. These poems are full of interesting characters and unusual settings that surprise you with their vivid imagery despite its spare language. You can’t feel it unless you read it!
All in all, the aforementioned books are all postmodern or contemporary literature. We can see where the priorities are put. However, many older works or the works that became Lithuanian classic got no or very little attention and are still inaccessible to the English readers worldwide. We just need to hope that in the future we will have more possibilities and resources to introduce translated Lithuanian literature to a wider public. But as for now, we recommend you checking the ones we have. It’s not much, but it’s worthy of attention.
Interested? Would like to read the books?
Find them online:
or visit Eureka bookstore (address: S. Daukanto a. 2 / Universiteto g. 10, Vilniaus) here in Lithuania. Have you read any Lithuanian books already?