Three female Latvian authors you should consider reading!
A vastly underrated genre, Soviet and Post-Soviet literature often goes overlooked by teachers and students of Russian alike. Over the next few weeks, I am starting a short series to introduce you to some incredible Soviet and Post-Soviet authors, engaging with themes of love, identity and memory throughout the Post-Soviet space.
In this article, I’m going to explore three female Latvian authors whose works are testament to the experience of women throughout Latvia’s fight for independence. I encourage you to read these works not only as a tool for language practice and cultural understanding, but as they were meant: an assertion of dignity and independence throughout the country’s history of occupation, and the perfect way to immerse yourself in Latvian heritage throughout your stay in Riga.
Her family deported to Krasnoyarsk, Siberia in 1941, author Māra Zālīte was born in exile in 1952. Such separation from her homeland and subsequent heritage had a profound effect upon the author, as illustrated throughout her works as she reflects upon themes of childhood and fractured identity. Her portfolio a diverse collection of fiction, autobiography, poetry and plays, Zālīte uses traditional Latvian mythology as an ongoing metaphor for the contemporary socio-politcal situation throughout Eastern Europe, such as in “Balādīte”, (1972), and “Debesis, debesis” (1988).
Aspazija (Johanna Emīlija Lizete Rozenberga)
The wife of Rainis, a well-known Latvian poet, Aspazija, (1865 – 1943), was an ardent supporter of women’s rights and Latvian independence throughout her life, advocating for greater personal freedom and self-determination. This is reflected in her lyrical and Neo-Romantic prose, plays and poems, such as “The Red Flowers”, (Sarkanās Puķes, 1897). As a member of the Latvian Social Democratic Workers’ Party, Aspazija remained active in politics until her death in 1943, when her funeral sparked a protest against the occupation.
Born in 1861, Anna Brigadere is an author and playwright best known for her autobiographical works “Dievs, daba, darbs”, (God, Nature, Work, 1926), “Skarbos Vējos”, (During Wild Winds, 1930), and “Akmeņu sprostā”, (In a Stone Trap, 1933). Her play, The Tale of Sprīdītis has received international acclaim and translated into numerous languages.