Vahur Afanasjev (given name Vahur Laanoja, 24. VIII 1979 - 10. V 2021) was a poet, prose writer and musician.
Afanasjev was born and educated in Tartu, studied economics at the University of Tartu (graduating in 2002) as well as media and communications. He worked in journalism and advertising, and was an official in the structures of the EU in Brussels. He was a member of the Tartu Young Authors’ Associacion from 1998, its chairman in 2001-2002, and was a member of the Estonian Writers’ Union since 2006 until his death.
He made his debut with self-published poetry and song lyrics, and in 1998 with poetry in the journal Vikerkaar. His first poetry collection, Kandiline maailm (‘Angular World’) appeared in 2000. His poetry is socially sensitive, contemporary, occasionally humorous and with a melancholy undertone. Greater attention was paid to his collection Tünsamäe tigu (‘The Snail of Tünsamäe’, 2015) and the novel Serafima ja Bogdan (‘Serafima and Bogdan’, 2017), both of which depicted living conditions in the villages by Lake Peipsi, on the Estonian-Russian border. Both works won the Literature Endowment annual award. The events of the novel Serafima ja Bogdan, with its panoramic scope, which has earned much attention and recognition, take place from the Second World War to the end of the eighties, in places displaying the cuttingly painful effects of the Soviet occupation on people and on the culture of the Russian Old Believers, who separated from the Russian Orthodox church in the 17th century and have lived in the outer reaches of the Russian empire. At the centre of the saga-like novel is the life story of Serafima and Bogdan, a twin brother and sister, the only ones of their family left alive, which ends tragically as the result of revenge. In 2017 the novel won first prize in the Estonian Writers’ Union’s novel competition, in 2018 it won the Virumaa literature award, and the Võtikvere Book Village’s ‘Elise Rosalie Auna’ literature prize.
The novel Õitsengu äärel (‘At the Edge of a Prosperity’, 2020) sketches an apocalyptic picture of the near future considering several vital contemporary issues, such as the climate crisis.
The years Afanasjev spent in Brussels are reflected in Minu Brüssel. Läbikukkunud euroametinku pihtimus (‘My Brussels: Confessions of a Failed Euro-official’, 2011), published by Petrone Print in its series of travel books, with a satirical undertone, which won the award for travel books presented by the travel firm Go Travel.
Afanasjev was also awarded the stimulus prize in the play-writing competition run in 2007 by the Estonian Playwrights’ Agency for Kiirtee (‘Expressway’), the annual ‘Live and Shine’ scholarship of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia (2018) and the Tartu City Writer scholarship (2019).
A. K. (Translated by C. M.)
Books in Estonian
Kastraat Ontariost. Tartu: Irboska Teataja Kirjastus, 2005, 160 lk.
Kosmos. Tallinn: Jutulind, 2007, 137 lk.
Serafima ja Bogdan. Tartu: Vemsa, 2017, 556 lk. [2. trükk: 2019.]
Õitsengu äärel. Kasepää: Vemsa, 2020, 446 lk.
Kandiline maailm. Tartu: Irboska Teataja Kirjastus, 2000, 78 lk.
Kaantega viin. Tartu: Irboska Teataja Kirjastus, 2004, 70 lk.
Katedraal Emajões. Tartu, Brüssel: ID Salong, 2006, 72 lk.
Eesti vaarao. Saarde, Pärnu: Jumalikud Ilmutused, 2013, 145 lk.
Kuidas peab elama. Tallinn: Näo Kirik, 2014, 77 lk.
Tünsamäe tigu. Tartu: Tartu NAK, 2015, 108 lk.
Hõbehundi laulud. Kasepää: Vemsa, 2020, 123 lk.
Kanepi kirik: juturaamat. Tartu, Rakvere: Irboska Teataja Kirjastus, 2002, 96 lk.
Kaadrid otsustavad: jutud, humoreskid. Tartu: Irboska Teataja, 2007, 239 lk.
Minu Brüssel: läbikukkunud euroametniku pihtimus. Tartu: Petrone Print, 2011, 253 lk.