Fear of strangers, of the danger lurking outside the safe walls of home – this is a feeling many have become familiar with in recent weeks. In Ilmar Taska’s dramatic novel Pobeda 1946: A Car Called Victory, the fear is of a more tangible enemy, as resistance workers hide from the Soviet occupying forces in Estonia just after the Second World War. A young boy is entranced by the sudden appearance in his street of a shiny new car – and then tricked into betraying secrets he does not know he holds.
We are celebrating the launch of our latest translation at the Print Room at the Coronet, 13th April 2018, 8pm. There, the novel will be brought to life with a dramatic reading by UK actors Anna Winslet, Edmund Harcourt and Chris McKeeman, accompanied with music by Villu Veski and Tiit Kalluste. Afterwards you can enjoy an in-depth conversation between the author of the original, Ilmar Taska, and award-winning journalist Rosie Goldsmith.
Pobeda 1946 is a fascinating evocation of Estonian life under Soviet occupation. Told through the eyes of a young boy it brilliantly captures the distrust and fear that was felt by so many Estonians after World War II. Read more about the book and Ilmar Taska in this earlier blog post.
We are launching Pobeda 1946 at the Estonian Literature Festival, an extension of the London Book Fair to celebrate the centenary of Estonian independence. It will be a weekend devoted to some of Estonia’s finest writers and writings, packed to the brim with poetry, music, panel discussions and more. In addition, all tickets to the fair also include traditional Estonian snacks and drinks for a fully immersive Estonian experience.
This week at we celebrate one hundred years of the Republic of Estonia by immersing ourselves in Estonian literature. Norvik is proud to have published works by several Estonian authors. Viivi Luik’s TheBeauty of History and Ilmar Taska’s newly published debut novel Pobeda 1946: A Car Called Victory transport us to life under Soviet occupation, while Anton Tammsaare’s satire The Misadventures of the New Satan is an enduring classic of European literature. Pick up a copy to celebrate the Estonian Centennial.
In Tallinn in 1946 a young boy is transfixed by the beauty of a luxurious cream-coloured car gliding down the street. It is a Russian Pobeda, a car called Victory. The sympathetic driver invites the boy for a ride and enquires about his family. Soon the boy’s father disappears. Ilmar Taska’s debut novel captures the distrust and fear among Estonians living under Soviet occupation after World War II. The reader is transported to a world seen through the eyes of a young boy, where it is difficult to know who is right and who is wrong, be they occupiers or occupied. Resistance fighters, exiles, informants and torturers all find themselves living in Stalin’s long shadow.
The Misadventures of the New Satan
Translated by Christopher Moseley and Olga Shartze
Satan has a problem: God has come to the conclusion that it is unfair to send souls to hell if they are fundamentally incapable of living a decent life on earth. If this is the case, then hell will be shut down, and the human race written off as an unfortunate mistake. Satan is given the chance to prove that human beings are capable of salvation – thus ensuring the survival of hell – if he agrees to live as a human being and demonstrate that it is possible to live a righteous life. St Peter suggests that life as a farmer might offer Satan the best chance of success, because of the catalogue of privations he will be forced to endure. And so Satan ends up back on earth, living as Jürka, a great bear of a man, the put-upon tenant of a run-down Estonian farm. His patience and good nature are sorely tested by the machinations of his scheming, unscrupulous landlord and the social and religious hypocrisy he encounters.
Riga. News of the Prague Spring washes across Europe, causing ripples on either side of the Iron Curtain. A young Estonian woman has agreed to pose as a model for a famous sculptor, who is trying to evade military service and escape to the West. Although the model has only a vague awareness of politics – her interest in life is primarily poetic – the consequences of the politics of both past and present repeatedly make themselves felt. Chance remarks overheard prompt memories of people and places, language itself becomes fluid, by turns deceptive and reassuring. The Beauty of History is a novel of poetic intensity, of fleeting moods and captured moments. It is powerfully evocative of life within the Baltic States during the Soviet occupation, and of the challenge to artists to express their individuality whilst maintaining at least an outward show of loyalty to the dominant ideology. Written on the cusp of independence, as Estonia and Latvia sought to regain their sovereignty in 1991, this is a novel that can be seen as an historic document – wistful, unsettling, and beautiful.
Norvik Press is proud to announce the upcoming publication of the English-language version of Ilmar Taska’s Pobeda 1946. This Estonian novel received critical acclaim when it was first published last year. It has already been translated into Finnish, German and Latvian, and Lithuanian and Danish versions are forthcoming. Norvik Press will release Christopher Moseley’s English-language translation, titled Pobeda 1946 – A Car Called Victory, in early spring 2018. Both Norvik Press and the translator have been awarded grants from the TRADUCTA programme, which supports high-quality translations of Estonian works.
Pobeda 1946 is a historical narrative set in Estonia under Soviet occupation. Secrets and mystery dominate – reflecting the covert behaviour of an oppressed people. At the centre of the story there is a young boy, too young to grasp all the things happening in the adult world around him, who unwittingly reveals a family secret to the kind of person in whom you should never confide – a government agent.
Ilmar Taska, the author of Pobeda 1946, is a well-known name in Estonia, but he has also been active beyond the borders of his own country, working in film, theatre and television in the UK and Sweden, amongst others. In addition to producing, directing and writing for the screen, Taska has also ventured into short-story writing in recent years. In 2014, Taska’s novella ‘Pobeda’ won the Estonian literary prize ‘Looming’ in the short-story category, and the following year, his story ‘Apartment to Let’, was included in the prestigious anthology Best European Fiction 2016, edited by Nathaniel Davis. Pobeda 1946 is Taska’s debut novel.
Norvik Press is delighted to introduce Taska’s novel to an English-language audience, especially as the London Book Fair 2018 will be shining a spotlight on Baltic literature. We at Norvik Press are mesmerised by Taska’s book, and will be excited and intrigued to see what other treasures the Baltic region has to offer.