A new book, called “The Ordinary Estonian”, has been released in Tallinn. Fusing stories written by Estonians on various themes, and complementing them with photographs of everyday Estonian life, the two Estonian authors, Karin Nemec and Helen Ree, have been able to utilise the internet and the e-culture of Estonia to create a lasting snapshot of the present-day Estonians.
The authors say that it is the first crowd-sourced book written by the nation.
“It has been a very interesting process to create the book, we had a very positive response to the call for short stories on our webpage with over 300 stories collected. On top of the stories, we have received an overwhelming support from the media as well as the Estonian government,” Karin Nemec said.
The initial idea came from both authors living for a number of years outside of Estonia. Helen Ree being in Switzerland and working as a professional photographer, while Nemec is raising her two-year-old daughter and one-year-old son in Shanghai, China.
„Living in Switzerland for the past seven years as an expat, I have often met people who had some knowledge of Estonia, mostly geographical, but rarely could anyone say as to who really are these Estonians,” Ree explained. “What do they like to do in their spare time, what do they eat, what is important to them and their families. There are no books that touch the soul of a nation and that is what Karin Nemec and I tried to create – a book that tells you as to who we are, what makes us laugh, what makes us tick. And there is no better way to write about a nation than to let the nation write its own story,” she added.
The published book will have its premier in Tallinn on 7 November. “We hope the people will enjoy the book as much as we enjoyed creating it. Interestingly, the internet was actually the crucial tool for its creation. The Estonians from all over the world contributed stories through our website, and, of course, email was the communication tool for putting the book together, hence the process was very virtual,” the authors said.
According to Ree and Nemec, their own opinion about their nation greatly improved during the compiling process. While taking snaps for the book, Ree noticed that everywhere in the country are signs of how close Estonians still are to the nature, how many old country houses are being renovated again, and how people are craving to “get back to their roots”.
“There is definitely life outside of the hustle and bustle and glamour of Tallinn as well, on the countryside and in the towns and villages of Estonia,” Ree noted.