Katrina Kalda


About Katrina Kalda


Katrina Kalda (b. 1980) is a French writer of Estonian origin.

She was born in Tallinn; as a child she moved to France, where she studied at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon. She has lectured at the University of Tours. In 2013 she won an award from the French Academy for her contribution to promoting the French language and literature, and in 2015 the Richelieu de la Francophonie prize, for the novel Arithméthique des dieux (‘The Arithmetic of the Gods’, 2010).

He first novel, Un roman estonien (‘Estonian Novel’, 2010; translated into Estonian as Eesti romaan, 2011) is set in Tallinn and elsewhere in Estonia in the nineteen-nineties, offering a glimpse of the time, making use of abundant formal and stylistic turns. Kalda’s second novel, Arithméthique des dieux (2013, published in Estonian as Jumalate aritmeetika, 2014) is also set in Estonia and is partly autobiographical, varying between the diary and epistolary form and on different time planes. Kadri Raud, who has moved from Estonia to France with her mother at the end of the eighties, starts to take an interest in her family tree after her grandmother’s death. Her diary entries alternate with the letters of her grandmother’s friend who was deported to Siberia. Thus the stories of different generations are opened up with a picture of different times, and the story of one family is revealed.

Kalda’s third, dystopian novel Le pays où les arbres n’ont pas d’ombre (‘The Land Where Trees Have No Shadow’, 2016, in Estonian Maa, kus puudel pole varju, 2017) takes place in a nameless world, out on outskirts of a forbidden City, whose residents are engaged in feeding the city and sorting its rubbish. Here, too, the central characters are female – three generations, through whose eyes the world is seen.

In the case of Kalda the same question has been raised as with the Estonian-Russian author Andrei Ivanov (b. 1971) about the definition of Estonian literature and the possibility of multilingual Estonian literature. Historical subject matter from the recent past has given rise to comparisons with the Finnish author (with Estonian roots) Sofi Oksanen (b. 1977).

A. K. (Translated by C. M.)

Books in Estonian

Eesti romaan. Tõlkinud Anti Saar. Tallinn: Varrak, 2011, 189 lk.
Jumalate aritmeetika. Tõlkinud Anti Saar. Tallinn: Varrak, 2014, 175 lk.
Maa, kus puudel pole varju. Tõlkinud Anti Saar. Tallinn: Varrak, 2017, 325 lk.