Raissa Kõvamees

Plays Raissa Kõvamees

About Raissa Kõvamees


Raissa Kõvamees (until 1933, nee Kesküla; 4. III/19. II 1907-18. IV 1989) was a prose writer of the Estonian diaspora.

She was born on Muhu island and studied there, later graduating Kunda adult education center. She worked in retail and after getting married, moved to Mõisaküla, Muhu. In 1944, she migrated to Sweden and in 1951 to Canada where she settled in Vancouver, which was also where she eventually passed away. Her daughter is the linguist Juta Kõvamees-Kitching (born 1935).

Kõvamees debuted in the early 1930s when her short prose was published in the Kuressaare newspaper Meie Maa. The majority of her works were written in exile. She gained recognition and was awarded second place at the Orto novel competition for her novel Kahe väina vahel (‘Between Two Straits’, 1956), which together with the novel On lindudel pesad… (‘Birds Have Nests…’, 1960) forms a story of a Muhu family from the late 19th century to the 1940s. The author provides a detailed view of local life and uses the local dialect. In both novels, strong female characters hold center stage. The novel Randlased (‘Coast Dwellers’, 1960) is also set on Muhu. Her artistically most accomplished novel Teela (1965) features an interesting main character of the same name and takes place on the mainland. The novel’s sequel Pärisosa (‘Heritage’, 1969) focuses on village life during the Estonian republic. The author writes about exile in the novel Sõja lapsed (‘Children of War’, 1967). Her posthumously published novel Tütarlaps kaugelt merelt (‘A Girl from a Distant Sea’, 1998) is again set on Muhu island, which is also the setting for the short prose collection Oli kord… (‘There Once Was…’, 1988).

A. K. (Translated by A. S.)


Books in Estonian

Kahe väina vahel. Toronto: Orto, 1956, 320 lk. [2. trükk: 1994.]
On lindudel pesad…. Toronto: Orto, 1960, 319 lk.
Randlased. Toronto: Orto, 1962, 190 lk.
Teela. Toronto: Orto, 1965, 286 lk.
Sõja lapsed. Toronto: Orto, 1967, 280 lk.
Pärisosa. Toronto: Orto, 1969, 235 lk.
Tütarlaps kaugelt neemelt. Tallinn: Olion, 1998, 299 lk.

Oli kord…. Jutte ja jutukesi möödunud aegadest. Vancouver: Laurel Press, 1988, 101 lk.

Kolm näidendit. Habaja: Kentaur, 2013, 113 lk.