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Books & Movies
  • A History of the Baltic States by Andres Kasekamp. Tracing the development of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, from the northern crusades against Europe's last pagans to the creation of their modern national identities. Employing a comparative approach, a particular emphasis is placed upon the last one hundred years, during which the Baltic states achieved independence, endured occupation by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, and transformed themselves into members of the European Union.
  • Vilnius Poker by Ricardas Gavelis. Considered a turning point in Lithuanian literature, the novel details a man's mental breakdown—and his obsession with a seductress named Lolita, the omnipresent "them," and the need to uncover what's "really going on" - in an epic, paranoid novel about the surreal absurdities and horrors of life under Soviet rule.
  • The Czar's Madman by Jaan Kross. A gripping historical novel centered around the plight of a Livonian nobleman who dared to criticize the czar, set during post-Napoleonic Russia. Renowned Estonian author Jan Kross weaves historical context through a powerful vision of human emotion: honor and knavery, greed and sacrifice, love and desire.
  • The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell. Adapted into a television series starring Kenneth Branagh, this second installment of the popular Kurt Wallander series brings the Scandinavian detective to Latvia, a country gripped by the upheaval of Soviet disintegration. On the heels of a murderer, Wallander is called to Riga and plunged into an alien world where shadows are everywhere, everything is watched, and old regimes will do anything to stay alive.
  • Border State by Tônu Ônnepalu. Estonian writer Tônu Ônnepalu presents a brilliantly realized account of an Eastern European immigrant in the grip of Western excess, emotionally crippled by a world that is subsuming his own and inhabiting an unfriendly, seemingly soulless West. His tale, in which disillusion and murder become inextricably linked, is a compelling exploration of scarcity, longing, and madness.
  • Flesh-Colored Dominoes by Zigmunds Skujins. A beautifully written surrealist novel that transports the reader between 18th century Baltic gentry and the narrator's life in the modern world. The connection between the two narratives gradually becomes clear in a mesmerizing fantasy of love, lust, and loss from one of the most renowned Latvian writers of the late 20th century.
  • Breathing into Marble by Laura Sintija Černiauskaitė. In this darkly poetic tale of love and violence, Isabelle, a woman living in rural Lithuania with her husband and young son, decides on a whim to adopt Ilya, a troubled orphan boy. The family quickly unravels under Ilya's malevolent influence in Černiauskaitė's debut novel, which won the EU Prize for Literature.
  • Those Whom I Would Like to Meet Again by Giedra Radvilavičiūtė. In ten of her best essay-stories, Lithuanian writer Giedra Radvilavičiūtė travels between the ridiculous and the sublime, the everyday and the extraordinary. From the old town of Vilnius to Chicago's Brighton Park neighborhood, from the seaside to a local delicatessen, the reader finds a dense, subtly interwoven structure of memory and reality, banalities and fantasy, all served up with a sense of absurdity and humor.
  • Defenders of Riga (2007) by Aigars Grauba. In 1919, one year after the official end to the hostilities of the Great War, the Latvian army is still fighting for its independence. Under the threat of siege from the Soviets on one side and a renegade German unit on the other, the small state musters its courage and collides with far superior enemies in a fierce battle for freedom.
  • 1944 (2017) by Elmo Nuganen. In the year 1944, Estonia faces advances from both the Russian Red Army and Nazi forces. Families are torn apart across enemy lines and soldiers are forced to make difficult choices to preserve a small nation caught in the middle of a global war.
  • Kevade (1969) by Arvo Kruusement. Widely considered one of the best films ever made in Estonia, Kevade (Spring) is based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Oskar Luts, exploring friendship, love and life in a small Estonian country boarding school in the late 1800s.
  • Those Old Love Letters (1992) by Mati Poldre. The life of Raimond Valgre, an Estonian songwriter of the 1930s and the 1940s, the political changes of his land and his life after war when his songs were considered not suitable for the Soviet way of life.
  • Jausmai (1968) by Algirdas Dausa. Considered by many to be the greatest Lithuanian film of all time, Jausmai (Feelings) is a story of brotherhood and love set during the end of World War II in Lithuania.
  • Tadas Blinda: The Beginning (2011) by Donatas Ulvydas. An adventure film based on the legendary history of the 19th-century Lithuanian outlaw and folk hero Tadas Blinda, a latter-day Baltic Robin Hood.