Jaan Kaplinski has been named the 11th Laureate of the European Literature Prize (Prix Européen de Littérature) since the creation of the award in 2005.
The European Prize for Literature aims to contribute to a better mutual understanding of the peoples of Europe through the iconic personalities of their contemporary culture. "It is by putting a face on each European country, that of its most famous contemporary writer, that our countries will best be able to respect, and to understand each other," the organizers explained.
Every year the European Prize for literature honors for the entire body of their work a European writer of international stature. The award is based on criteria of quality and of exemplarity, which are as demanding as those for the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Kaplinki, born in Estonia in 1941, studied Romance language and linguistics at the University of Tartu, graduating as a French philologist in 1964. He has worked as a researcher in linguistics, a sociologist, an ecologist and a translator.
During Perestroika and Estonian national revival he was active as a journalist both at home and abroad. He was an MP from 1992-1995 and is a member of several learned societies and the Universal Academy of Cultures headed by Elie Wiesel.
Kaplinski has published several books of poetry and essays in Estonian, Finnish and English. His work has also been translated into Norwegian, Swedish, Latvian, Russian and Czech.
Influenced by Western modernism (Rimbaud, Eliot, Pound) and classical Chinese poetry he has also translated into Estonian texsts from French, English, Spanish, Chinese and Swedish.