Holger Kaints

About Holger Kaints Holger Kaints


Holger Kaints (born 4 I 1957) is a prose writer and critic.

Kaints was born in Tallinn and, among other jobs, has worked as a bookseller. He is a member of the Estonian Writers’ Union (from 2009) and the Estonian PEN Club.

Kaints’ debut novel Teekond mäetipu poole (‘Journey Towards the Mountain Top’) with the subheading Ulmejutt (‘A Science Fiction Story’) was published in 2003. Its mode of expression and style are clearly recognisable. The action of this book of alternative history takes place in the Soviet Union in 2012, which is a hint at Soviet science fiction. The Soviet world with all its characteristic features opens in a grotesque key.

Partly, the remnants of the Soviet time also form the theme of Lennukivaatleja (‘Planespotter’, 2009, winner of the Siugjas Sulepea (‘Snaky Pen’) award in the same year), the action of which takes place in a slum are near Tallinn Airport where people of mostly Russian background who had been left aside from the success of the present-day world eke out their living. One of them is daily engaged in watching of planes and taking notes, believing that he has discovered a big secret. Tension is added to this thrilling world with its shifted reality by the mysterious black BMW which starts to follow the protagonist.

The novel Uinuv maa (‘Dormant Country’, 2016) takes a look into the years 1938, 1941 and 1946 or into the life at the end of the first independence period of the Republic of Estonia and the beginning of the Soviet regime through the eyes of Rilma, a young girl who has married a principled communist. The novel is based on historical material and has some recognisable prototypes. It depicts with compassion but without dramatism usually characteristic of writing about the period the world of the communist elite and the construction of the new society.

The short novel Jõululaupäev. Nõmme 1970 (‘Christmas Eve. Nõmme 1970’, 2018) provides a restrained view of a Christmas Eve as seen by different members of a family.

Short prose from 2002–2014 has been published in the collection Päev, mil Stalin suri (‘The Day When Stalin Died’, 2015).

The author’s relation to books from his childhood to working at a state-controlled wholesale store of books and stationery through which foreign books reached Soviet Estonia is described in Mälestusi raamatutest (‘Memories about Books’, 2017). The book also provides a picture of the period from the 1960s to the end of 1980s.

In 2012 Kaints received the annual award of the journal Looming. In 2019, he was one of those who were selected to receive the writer’s salary from the Ministry of Culture.

A. K. (Translated by I. A.)


Books in Estonian

Teekond mäetipu poole: ulmejutt. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 2003, 205 lk.
Lennukivaatleja. Tallinn: Kultuurileht (
Loomingu Raamatukogu), 2009, 143 lk.
Mardika umb, ehk Minu väike hullumaja. Tallinn: Varrak, 2010, 247 lk.
Kõrvalepõige. Tallinn: Varrak, 2012, 365 lk.
Uinuv maa: triptühhon. Tallinn: Hea Lugu, 2016, 249 lk.
Jõululaupäev: Nõmme 1970. Tallinn: Hea Lugu, 2018, 111 lk.

Short prose
Päev, mil Stalin suri: lühiproosat aastatest 2002-2014. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2015, 143 lk.

Mälestusi raamatutest. Tallinn: Hea Lugu, 2017, 159 lk.