Tarmo Teder (b. 18. IV 1958) is a prose writer and film and literary critic.
He was born in Kuressaare (then called Kingissepa), attended Tallinn School of Technology and night school in Kingissepa. He worked in several places at casual jobs. In 1994-1995 he was an editor at the newspaper Rahva Hääl, from 1995 to 1998 on the culture section of Eesti Päevaleht and from 1998 to 2013 as the film editor of the culture paper Sirp. He joined the Estonian Writers’ Union in 1996.
He started publishing poetry in periodicals in 1980, and prose in 1986. The short story collection Tumedad jutud ('Dark Tales'), appeared in 1990; he became better known after 2000, when works such as Jutte kambrist 27-1 ('Tales from Room 27-1', 2000) and Pööningujutud ('Tales from the Attic', 2002) appeared. Teder concentrates on characters from the lower strata of society, people on the margin, bohemians and drop-outs who live on the edge. One of the central scenes of action in his works is the Kopli area of Tallinn. It is a realistically depicted masculine world with a somewhat naturalistic pungency. He is a storyteller with interesting twists and richly expressive language.
The novel Onanistid ('The Wankers', 2006) throws the spotlight on an alcoholic cultural journalist, as a distorted mirror of the contemporary world of arts journalism. The main protagonist happens to end up in an institute that is studying masturbation, which may be taken more generally as a synonym for empty idleness. In this, as in Teder’s other works, parallels have been drawn with the Russian writer Venedikt Yerofeyev.
The main protagonist of the novel Andruse elu ja õnn ('The Life and Fortune of Andrus', 2016), is a fisherman on Kihnu, following his capricious life from Soviet times to the independent Estonia of today. In this, too, an important place is given to the world of small people, and to alcohol and complex human relationships.
Historical events are intertwined with the main character’s story in Teder’s voluminous three-part novel Kuuskümmend aastat hiljem ('Sixty Years Later', I-III, 2017 – 2020), which begins with the conception of the chief protagonist Jaan Mõtus, the putative alter ego of the author, and surveys his life and doings from then on. The story, which begins on Saaremaa in the late fifties, reaches the Tartu and Tallinn of the eighties by the third volume, throwing a light on the world of Teder’s characters.
Tarmo Teder has been awarded the The Estonian Film Journalists’ Association criticism prize in 2002 and on two occasions the Friedebert Tuglas short story prize: in 2001 for the short story Kohtumine ('The Meeting') and in 2005 for Viimase idealisti pildid ('Pictures by the Last Idealist').
A. K. (Translated by C. M.)
Books in Estonian
Kurat kargas pähe. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1995, 179 lk.
Onanistid: sada tundi kultuuriajakirjaniku elust. Tallinn: Tuum, 2006, 222 lk.
Vanaisa tuletorn. Tallinn: Varrak, 2010, 220 lk.
Andruse elu ja õnn. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2016, 101 lk.
Kuuskümmend aastat hiljem. Mõtuse Jaani elu ja inimesed I. Tallinn: EKSA, 2017, 678 lk.
Kuuskümmend aastat hiljem. Mõtuse Jaani elu ja inimesed II. Tallinn: EKSA, 2019, 310 lk.
Kuuskümmend aastat hiljem. Mõtuse Jaani vangid, joodikud ja vargad III. Tallinn: EKSA, 2020, 435 lk.
Tumedad jutud. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1990, 189 lk.
Jutte kambrist 27-1. Tallinn: Varrak, 2000, 285 lk.
Pööningujutud. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2002, 252 lk.
Luurejutud. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2004, 183 lk.
12 jõulujuttu. Tallinn: Varrak, 2008, 127 lk.
Keedetud hinged. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 2012, 127 lk.
Ahistuse jutud. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2018, 238 lk.
Taevatule valgel. Tallinn: FC Boheem, 1995, 135 lk.
Angerjapõõsa varjud. Tallinn: FC Boheem, 2001, 69 lk.
Collections of articles
Igemest ja abemest. Tallinn: Mardikas, 2008, 183 lk.