Writer Imbi Paju has been accepted to the Estonian Writers’ Union. Paju, one of Estonia’s most internationally known contemporary authors, had to wait ten years before she was finally made a member.
In 2006 Paju published her book Memories Denied, which first had a lot of attention in Finland, but later gained traction all over Europe. It first appeared in Finnish translation, the Estonian original was published in 2007. In the same year, two of Estonia’s more important contemporary writers sponsored Paju’s bid for membership in the Estonian Writers’ Union (Eesti Kirjanike Liit).
While conflicts within artists’ unions are a well-known phenomenon, in Paju’s case reactions to her work have ranged from approval of her writing to the acknowledgement of her attempt to introduce a more humanistic perspective to the debate surrounding Estonia’s past under Soviet occupation, and the pro-Putin Russian youth organization Nashi picketing and condemning her books.
Though Paju’s writing as well as her contributions to the debate around the Soviet occupation of Estonia are provocative to many, her sudden success abroad, not yet a particularly familiar occurrence in Estonian writing, may have contributed to a string of difficulties and misunderstandings as well that kept her out of the union.
Part of the disagreement about Paju’s work is that it isn’t “pure” fiction, but a mix of different genres, including history, documentary styles, and the use of the form of the psychological essay.
One of the conditions for admission, namely that the writer applying for membership should have published at least two books, Paju met in 2009 (in Estonia a year later) with the publication of Fear behind us all, a collection of essays, together with Finnish writer Sofi Oksanen. Her most recent work, Sisters across the Gulf of Finland, was published in 2012.
Editor: Dario Cavegn