Hvostov's Multi-Ethnic Account of Life in Closed Soviet City Now in Russian ({{commentsTotal}})

Andrei Hvostov
Andrei Hvostov Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

"Strasti po Sillamäe," the Russian translation of "Sillamäe Passioon," by columnist Andrei Hvostov, was presented at a book release event in Sillamäe yesterday.

Released in Estonian a few years ago, the book tells the autobiographical childhood story and identity quandaries of a boy born to an Estonian mother and Russian father. The book has stirred up some controversy among Russians, but Hvostov said it is because many have not actually read it, and the book should instead draw ethnic Estonian and Russian communities closer together.

"In 2011, the book was one of the main cultural events in Estonian life," Igor Kotjuh, editor of the publisher Kite, told ETV.

"The best way to introduce what was discussed extensively by Estonian readers, was to translate the book into Russian, so that the Russian reader can make up his own mind about the style and assertions of the book," Kotjuh said.

In response to critical presumptions from the Russian community, Hvostov said: "It has been suggested to me that the same [negative] attitude applies for "Sillamäe Passioon." Despite the fact that it hasn't been read, there is some kind of inkling that something bad about us - Russians - has been said in it."

The book is set in Soviet-era Sillamäe, a then closed city where a uranium plant had been established in 1946. Much of the workforce was recruited from Russia and the town is still predominantly Russian-speaking.

Hvostov has gained a reputation for being an Estonian patriot, in one instance voluntarily standing guard by the Estonian Parliament building during the rioting and ethnic tension of 2007.

The book was translated by Roman Fokin (pen name P. I. Filimonov).

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