Ahto Levi

Novels Ahto Levi

About Ahto Levi

Ahto Levi (real name Levi Lippu, 18 June 1931 – 20 January 2006) was a prose writer of Estonian origin who wrote in Russian. His autobiographical novel about life in the prison camp, Halli Hundi päevik (‘Gray Wolf’s Diary’, 1968), enjoyed immense popularity.

Levi was born in Saaremaa Island and attended the primary schools of Kaali and Kuressaare from 1938–1944. In 1944, he was conscripted to the auxiliary service of the German Air Force and ended up in Germany from where he returned to Estonia in 1947. He spent the years 1948–1963 in prison camps; he fled repeatedly and was detained for that in the prisons and camps of Tomsk, Kaluga and Kirovograd. After being released, he lived in Moldova. From 1965–1967, he worked on geological expeditions in the Carpathians and, from 1967–1968, as a fisherman in Sakhalin.

In 1968, his autobiographical novel Записки Серого Волка (‘Gray Wolf’s Diary’), written in Russian, was published in Moscow. The novel was written in prison camps. From that time onwards, Levi lived in Moscow as a freelance writer. The novel appeared in Estonian in the same year. It was translated into 16 languages, for example, Latvian, Finnish, German, Georgian, Slovak, Hungarian, Czech, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Polish, and Moldovan. Based on the novel, the Mosfilm studio produced the film Восвращение к жизни (‘Return to Life’) in 1971. His following novels were Fortuna’s Smile (1973), Running from One’s Shadow (1979, in Latvian in 1989) and On Halfway (1988) on the theme of Tartu. The two latter were written in Tartu. The novel Such a Funny King (1988) speaks about the author’s childhood. None of those novels except ‘Gray Wold’s Diary’ has been published in Estonian. In 1996, the novel Valdemor: lugu varaste elust (‘Valdemor: A Story about the Life of Thieves’) was published in Tallinn.

At the end of his life, Ahto Levi lived intermittently in Tartu and Moscow; he died in Moscow.

L. P. (Translated by I. A.)


Novels in Russian

Ахто Леви, Записки Серого Волка. Москва: Молодая гвардия, 1969, 239 pp. [2nd ed: 1975, 1988, 1994, 1995.]
Ахто Леви, Записки Серого Волка; Улыбка Фортуны. Москва: Юридическая литература, 1975, 237 pp.
Ахто Леви, Бежать от тени своей. Москва: Современник, 1983, 174 pp. [2nd ed: 1994.]
Ахто Леви, Такой смешной король. Повесть первая, Король. Москва : Московский рабочий, 1989, 234 pp.
Ахто Леви, Tакой смешной король. Повесть вторая, Оккупация. Москва: Московский рабочий, 1990, 286 pp.
Ахто Леви, Посредине пути. Москва: Современник, 1990, 237 pp. [2nd ed: 1994.]
Ахто Леви, Такой смешной король. Повесть третья, Капкан. Москва: Московский рабочий, 1991, 251 pp.
Ахто Леви, Записки Серого Волка: романы. Москва: Константа, 1994, 379 pp. [Contents: ‘Записки Серого Волка’, ‘Мор’.]

Novels in Estonian

Halli Hundi päevik. Tallinn : Eesti Raamat, 1973. 192 lk. [2. trükk: 2023]
Valdemor: lugu varaste elust, verisest võimuvõitlusest ja vargaseadusest. Tallinn: Olion, 1996. 255 lk.