Tiit Aleksejev is a novelist and a playwright. Born in Kohtla-Järve in 1968, he studied history at the University of Tartu, eventually concluding his studies in 1992 with a master’s degree in medieval history, specifically the Crusades. In addition to his literary career, he has served as a diplomat in both France and Brussels. He is also an alumnus of the student corporation Sakala. Currently, he lives in Tallinn.
Aleksejev debuted with the short story “Tartu Rahu” (‘The Peace of Tartu’) in the Estonian literary journal Looming in 1999 and won the magazine’s annual award. From there he went on to publish his thriller novel Valge kuningriik (‘The White Kingdom’) in 2006, which won the Betti Alver Prize for best debut novel. The setting of Valge kuningriik spans time and place in both Paris and Afghanistan and contains facets mirroring Aleksejev’s own personal experiences, such as the protagonist’s job of working in an Estonian embassy.
He published his second novel Palveränd (‘The Pilgrimage’) in 2008, a piece of historical fiction set during the First Crusade in the 11th century. To write Palveränd, Aleksejev spent a decade researching information and visiting key battle sites in the Holy Land. In 2010, the novel was awarded the European Union Prize for Literature.
Aleksejev’s next work was the play Leegionärid (‘Legionaries’), based on the historical Battle of Blue Hills in Estonia during the Second World War and the Estonian Legion. The novel focused on the fate of the fallen Estonians who fought on opposing sides of the stalled Red Army and the retreating Germans. Leegionärid won the Virumaa Literary Award in 2011 and was performed in the town of Rakvere in 2013.
In 2011, he published Kindel Linn (‘Stronghold’), which, combined with Palveränd, is the second novel in a proclaimed trilogy. His most recent work, the play Kuningad (‘Kings’) was published in 2014. Again Aleksejev pulled from history, centering the story around the murder of the four Estonian kings during the St. George’s Night Uprising of 1343.
Aleksejev’s work has been translated into multiple languages, including Bulgarian, Finnish, Hungarian, Italian, and Latvian.
Books in Estonian
Valge kuningriik. Tallinn: Varrak, 2006, 197 pp.
Palveränd: lugu Esimesest ristisõjast. Tallinn: Varrak, 2008, 308 pp. [2nd ed: 2012.]
Kindel linn: lugu Esimesest ristisõjast. Tallinn: Varrak, 2011, 205 pp.
Leegionärid. Tallinn: Kultuurileht, 2010, 53 pp.
Kuningad: näidend aastast 1343. Tallinn: Kultuurileht, 2014, 73 pp.