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Nora Ikstena
Soviet Milk

22.08., godz. 12:30 - 13:30


Stepped on the literary stage in 1993 with her biography of Anna Rūmane Ķeniņa – a writer and one of the first  to introduce feminism ideology in Latvia, followed by  two short story collections, and in 1998 the noteworthy publication of  Ikstena’s novel  Dzīves svinēšana (Celebration of Life), which realized extensive copy sales, thus qualifying as a Latvian best seller with subsequent translation into several languages. Since then the author has written a book almost every year – either short stories, fairy tales, novels or biographical work. Alongside her own creative work, she has organized the publication of the collected works of her literary mentor and teacher Dzintars Sodums – an accomplished American Latvian poet, writer and translator. Ikstena brought Sodums from the United States to his homeland Latvia, took him into her home when his health was failing and together with her family selflessly took care of him until his death.

About her ‘Life Stories Ikstena says - I have written Life Stories virtually in the space of one breath – these stories have been imagined in such concentration, that I had to free myself from them. They came so naturally, that I am very happy to have returned to the short-story format. It seems to me that in these eight stories each individual and different life is so strikingly intense that it was not possible to place all into one novel… Also in terms of style, I searched  and found a different approach to each of the stories. I wanted to express myself more clearly and more simply.

The Latvian Literature Centre, the International Writers and Translators House in Ventspils and the annual festival Prose Readings were created thanks to Ikstena’s initiative. Since 2003 Nora Ikstena has been a member of the National Culture Council and for a period served as its Chair. She also is a scenario and concept author for films, music projects and large scale events, as well as travel columns in the largest daily newspaper Diena (Today). In sum her activities make her one of the most noteworthy personalities in the cultural life of Latvia. Ikstena’s most recent novel Mother’s Milk (under the title Soviet Milk is published in English 2017 by Peirene Press in London, also in Italy, Estonia, Hungary, Germany, Macedonia, Russia, France, Japan, Syria, Ukraine, Lithuania, Sweeden, Croatia) is the story of a mother’s and her daughter’s existential life struggle transcending the dramatic time period from 1969 to 1989. The story features a strong female character and how she survives the various time periods in Latvian history. In infancy the heroine’s first fare – mother’s milk – is denied to the daughter by her mother. The novel concludes at the moment of the fall of the Berlin Wall, when she is left without a mother. Ikstena is the recipient of numeros National Literature Prizes, also of the prestigious Baltic Assembly Award, as well as the Three Star Order of Latvia. Soviet Milk was long listed for Republic of Counsciouness Prize and short listed for EBRD Literary Prize in London.

pic. from the guest's archive