Ira Lember

Stories Ira Lember


Ira Lember (until 1935 Grünthal, 1935-1949 Kivik, pseudonym Artur I. Erich; born 21. V 1926) is a prose writer and children’s author.

She was born in Tallinn, studied at the Tallinn French Lyceum and graduated a commodity expert from the School of Cooperative Commerce in Tallinn. She worked as commodity expert in the ETKVL (The State Union of Estonian Consumers Cooperatives) Tallinn goods depot from 1944-1973. In 1974, she became a professional writer. She is a member of the Writers’ Union since 1983 and was the chairwoman of the trade union of the Union from 1984-1990.

In the beginning of her writing career, she was mostly known as a children’s writer, debuting with her poems in the newspaper Säde in 1962. Her first novel Jannu (1969) and its sequel Koolipoiss Jannu (‘School Boy Jannu’, 1981) follows a boy through places and situations familiar to children. Jannu is also one of the main characters in the story collection Peeter ja vanaisa (‘Peeter and Grandfather’, 1977). For teenagers, she has authored the science fiction dilogy Fantastiline tüdruk (‘Fantastic Girl’, 1994, prize at the Nukits competition by the Estonian Children’s Literature Center in 1996) and Fantastiline poiss (‘Fantastic Boy’, 1997), the criminal adventure stories Musta kaarna küüsis (‘In the Grip of the Black Raven’, 1998, prize at the Nukits competition by the Estonian Children’s Literature Center in 2000) and Isehakanud detektiivid (‘Self-appointed Detectives’, 2001). Serious choices are the focus of the novel Näitleja vastu tahtmist (‘Unwilling Actor’, 1995) in which an Estonian boy shelters his Jewish classmate during the German occupation. ‘Unwilling Actor’ was recognized in a youth and children’s literature competition. The novel Neljateistkümnes neljapäev (‘The Fourteenth Thursday’, 1995) follows the life of a boy growing up in an orphanage.

With Erika Esop and under the pseudonym Artur Erich, she has published the story collection Ahvipoeg Mafi seiklused linnas (‘The Adventures of Mafi the Monkey in the City’, 1998) and the verse story Väike Fee (‘Small Fee’, 1998); for toddlers, the verse stories Hallikirju karvakera (‘Grey Ball of Fur’) and Kurri-Nurri läheb kooli (‘Purr-Meow Goes to School’, 1999). Lember’s children’s poetry has been published in collections Vurrkann (‘Humming Top’, 1980), Seitsme peaga poiss (‘The Boy with Seven Heads’, 1982), Pöörane kevad (‘Crazy Spring’, 2005), Prillmadu (‘Spectacled Cobra’, 2007) and Tuulehobune (‘Wind Horse’, 2009). Her children’s poetry has also been set to music, a well-known example is Koolikell (‘School Bell’) with music by Uno Naissoo.

For a long time, Lember was mostly known as a children’s and young adult writer, but during the second half of her writing career, she also began writing for adults. The novel series Äikese varjud (‘Shadows of Thunder’) focusing on a family’s life, co-written with Erika Esop and under the pseudonym Artur Erich, takes center stage here: Äike (‘Thunder’, 1991, third prize in a 1990 novel competition), Pärast äikest (‘After Thunder’, 1995, A. H. Tammsaare Novel Prize), Välgust tabatud (‘Struck by Lightning’, 1996) and Varjud (‘Shadows’, 1999). After Esop’s death, she continued under the pseudonym Artur I. Erich and wrote the novels: Varjude allee (‘Alley of Shadows’, 2002), Enne äikest (‘Before Thunder’, 2007), Äikese varjud (‘Shadows of Thunder’, 2012) and Saladuste varjud (‘Shadows of Secrets, 2019). The main story with its prequels and sequels spans from the final years of the Republic of Estonia to the end of the 19th century to the 1990s, taking place not only in Estonia, but Russia, Germany, and America as well.

The novel dilogy Päevalilled (‘Sunflowers’, 2009) and Katariina portree (‘The Portrait of Katariina, 2010) has a large geographical grasp as well: the reader is transported from 20th century Tallinn to Crimea to the Republic of Estonia in the 1930s. In the trilogy Kummuli kuu (‘Upside Down Moon’, 2004), Must ratsanik (‘Black Rider’, 2005) and Ööviiulid (‘Night Violins, 2008), the reader is taken to Syria and the Mediterranean coast.

Lember is a good storyteller who uses reader-friendly form and language to explore her characters and intertwines the plot with historical events. She has gathered inspiration from her own and her family’s life and has an optimistic, positive attitude. Due to her productivity and popularity, she has been compared to the English romantic fiction author Rosamunde Pilcher.

In 2016, Ira Lember received the Order of Tallinn and in 2017, the Order of the White Star, V Class.

A. K. (Trqanslated by A. S.)

Books in Estonian

Artur Erich, Äike. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1991, 223 lk. [2. trükk: 2008.]
Juba tornid paistavad. Tallinn: Nora, 1994, 111 lk.
Artur Erich, Pärast äikest. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1995, 246 lk. [2. trükk: 2008.]
Artur Erich, Välgust tabatud. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1996, 214 lk. [2. trükk: 2009.]
Kaardimajake. Tallinn: I. Lember, 1998, 143 lk.
Artur Erich, Varjud. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1999, 215 lk. [2. trükk: 2009.]
Kevadromanss. Tallinn: I. Lember, 2000, 200 lk.
Artur I. Erich, Varjude allee. Tallinn: Canopus, 2002, 265 lk. [2. trükk: 2010.]
Kummuli kuu. Tallinn: Canopus, 2004, 196 lk.
Must ratsanik. Tallinn: Canopus, 2005, 188 lk.
Kohvik pärnade all. Tallinn: Canopus, 2007, 142 lk.
Artur I. Erich, Enne äikest. Tallinn: Canopus, 2007, 223 lk.
Ööviiulid. Tallinn: Canopus, 2008, 174 lk.
Päevalilled. Tallinn: Canopus, 2009, 331 lk
Katariina portree. Tallinn: Canopus, 2010, 263 lk.
Sügiscapriccio. Tallinn: Canopus, 2011, 186 lk.
Artur I. Erich, Äikese varjud. Tallinn: Canopus, 2012, 262 lk.
Õde Veera. Tallinn: Canopus, 2013, 196 lk.
Villa järve ääres. Tallinn: Canopus, 2014, 233 lk.
Pärandus. Tallinn: Canopus, 2015, 196 lk.
Hea kasvatusega mees. Tallinn: Canopus, 2016, 184 lk.
Vale nimega mees. Tallinn: Canopus, 2018, 246 lk.
Elukutse ohver. Tallinn: Canopus, 2017, 195 lk.
Lavale sündinud. Tallinn: Canopus, 2017, 279 lk.
Artur I. Erich, Saladuste varjud. Tallinn: Canopus, 2019, 221 lk.
Tütarlaps maalilt. Tallinn: Canopus, 2020, 167 lk.

Daamide valss: jutud. Tallinn: Canopus, 2004, 164 lk.

Children’s and young adult literature
Jannu: jutud. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1969, 39 lk. [2. trükk: 2010.]
Kurnoss: lühijutud ja luuletused. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1976, 64 lk.
Peeter ja vanaisa: lühijutud. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1977, 48 lk.
Vurrkann: luuletused. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1980, 32 lk.
Koolipoiss Jannu. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1981, 47 lk. [2. trükk: 2010.]
Peaasi, et pahandusi ei tuleks: jutustusi. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1981, 74 lk.
Seitsme peaga poiss: luuletused. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1982, 32 lk.
Ülesküntud liivakast: jutustused. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1983, 48 lk.
Tädi Fantaasia: lühijutud. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1985, 64 lk.
Mänguiga: jutte ja luuletusi. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1986, 78 lk.
Laps visiitkaardiga: lühijutud. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1988, 86 lk.
Pott peas. Tallinn: Oktoober, 1992, 38 lk.
Fantastiline tüdruk: jutustus. Tallinn: Koolibri, 1994, 78 lk.
Koerapolka: jutud. Tallinn: Ilo, 1994, 68 lk.
Kaks õde: jutud. Tallinn: Kupar, 1995, 126 lk.
Neljateistkümnes neljapäev: jutustus lastele. Tallinn: Egmont Estonia, 1995, 63 lk.
Näitleja vastu tahtmist: romaan. Tallinn: Kupar, 1995, 158 lk.
Hull hamburger ja poiss: jutud. Tallinn: Valgus, 1997, 110 lk.
Fantastiline poiss: jutustus. Tallinn: Koolibri, 1997, 79 lk. [2. trükk: 2011.]
Artur Erich, Ahvipoiss Mafi seiklused linnas. Kuressaare: Tormikiri, 1998, 50 lk.
Musta kaarna küüsis: jutustus. Tallinn: Perioodika, 1998, 111 lk.
Väike Fee: värssjutud. Kuressaare: Tormikiri, 1998, 26 lk.
Artur Erich, Hallikirju karvakera. Kuressaare: Tormikiri, 1999, 11 lk.
Artur Erich, Kurri-Nurri läheb kooli. Kuressaare: Tormikiri, 1999, 11 lk.
Isehakanud detektiivid: romaan. Tallinn: I. Lember, 2001, 87 lk.
Hull professor. Nahkvestiga poiss: jutustused. Tallinn: Canopus, 2003, 101 lk.
Seiklus Mississipi ääres: jutustus. Tallinn: Canopus, 2003, 128 lk.
Silmapaistev tegelane: lühijutud. Tallinn: Canopus, 2003, 112 lk.
Pöörane kevad: luuletused. Tallinn: Canopus, 2005, 46 lk.
Tüdruk, kes armastas teatrit: jutustus. Tallinn: Canopus, 2005, 120 lk.
Võrukaelad. Tallinn: Canopus, 2006, 35 lk.
Jõuluvana postkast. Tallinn: Canopus, 2007, 71 lk.
Pikk isa: luuletused. Tallinn: TEA Kirjastus, 2007, 37 lk.
Prillmadu. Tallinn: TEA Kirjastus, 2007, 44 lk.
Tuulehobune. Tallinn: TEA Kirjastus, 2009, 45 lk.
Jannupoiss. Tallinn: Canopus, 2010, 206 lk.
Fantastiline tüdruk. Fantastiline poiss. Musta kaarna küüsis. Tallinn: Canopus, 2011, 306 lk.
Nõiajaht koolis. Tallinn: Canopus, 2011, 100 lk.
Tädi Fantaasia lood. Tartu: Petrone Print, 2016, 94 lk.

Vanaema kuldsõrmus. Tallinn: I. Lember, 2001, 159 lk.
Kuldne kaleidoskoop. Tallinn: Canopus, 2006, 360 lk.