Latvia

Castle of Light, National Library of Latvia, Riga, Latvia, exterior

Articles

“Latvians are introverts” – so says the platform “Latvian Literature,” which was set up to promote Latvian literature abroad, and which organizes gatherings for translators of Latvian literature, introducing the latest writers and most-talked about books of every year and providing a chance to interact with publishers – a learning opportunity I myself take advantage of.

Interviews

Book Fairs/Literary Festivals

Punctum Festival is a program of literary events in August organized by the Punctum literary magazine. The festival has been running since 2017, bringing together representatives of different cultural disciplines in interdisciplinary events. The festival features poetry readings, prose readings, workshops, lectures on bibliotherapy, and discussions on inclusive literature.

The annual international literature festival Prozas lasījumi, focusing on prose, takes place every December in Riga. The readings started in 1977 in honor of Latvian writer Andrejs Upits’ 100th anniversary. Several strong traditions have been established, like the Baltic readings, an event where Latvian literature meets Estonian and Lithuanian literature. Furthermore, every year young readers gather at interactive children’s literature readings.

Every February, the International Exhibition Centre Ķīpsala in Riga turns into an inspiring book town, where writers, translators, publishers, and readers meet. For three days, Ķīpsala hosts the most significant book fair of the year, the International Book and Publishers Exhibition Latvian Book Fair, where a diverse range of books by Latvian and foreign publishing houses is on display.

The first Poetry Days were celebrated in 1965 to honor the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Latvian poet Jānis Rainis. Poetry Days events occur not only in Riga, but across all of Latvia. This celebration typically lasts about 21 days in September and includes poetry readings as well as opportunities to meet the poets themselves.

The international poetry festival Page Break, held annually in Jelgava in May, gathers internationally known poets. Through poetry walks and the symbiosis of music and poetry, the festival encourages the audience to take a closer look at poetry and its potential. As part of the festival, an anthology of the festival’s poetry is published with the works of all authors and their translations into Latvian.

Literary Awards

The Dzintars Sodums balva is awarded in memory of the outstanding Latvian writer and translator Dzintars Sodums to a Latvian writer for innovation in poetry, prose, or drama, or to a translator for translating literature into Latvian. The prize is endowed with around 4300 EUR and honors innovation in Latvian literature and translation.

Kilograms of Culture is a public media award in the field of culture, which supports the active participation of public media in cultural life of Latvia. The different awards are given by Latvian Television and Latvian Radio since 2012. The jury nominates winners in ten categories, of which literature is one, while the finalists are chosen by the audience and listeners in three votes taking place in spring, autumn and winter.

The Baltvilka Balva was established in 2005 and is presented by the Latvian Council for Children and Youth Literature, which annually selects different members for the prize jury. It honors special achievements in children’s literature. The winners receive a prize created by the artist Inese Brant and a cash prize, as well as the opportunity to live and work for one month at the International House of Writers and Translators.

Since 2010, Liepaja Culture Board has been organizing the presentation of the Krasta laudis award. It is an annual competition in which the best Latvian literary works are honored. The award is traditionally presented in honor of Egons Līvs, a Latvian writer and screenwriter. The Krasta laudis memorial award is awarded in two categories for the best work of original prose in Latvian and for the best literary work by school youth.

The Annual Latvian Literature Award (LALIGABA) is the most significant literature event of the year in Latvia. It ensures professional evaluation of literary works and recognition of authors for the most outstanding works published in Latvian in the previous year. The winners of the awards in each category receive cash prizes, as well as a symbol of the award, the LALIGABA lamp.

Translation Awards

The Baltvilka Balva was established in 2005 and is presented by the Latvian Council for Children and Youth Literature. Since 2008, in addition to Latvian authors and book artists, the authors of the best translations of foreign children’s literature of the year among writers from the Baltic Sea region and their translators, have been awarded. The winners receive a creation by Inese Brant and a cash prize, as well as the opportunity to work for one month at the International House of Writers and Translators.

Since 2005, the International House of Writers and Translators has been handing out the Sudraba tintnīca in cooperation with the City Council of Ventspils. The prize honors a work of poetry, prose or a translation to and from Latvian. The award is designed to recognize the most outstanding literary works and to honor authors and translators. The award provides a 900 EUR scholarship and a four-week stay at the residence.

The Annual Latvian Literature Award is awarded in the categories poetry, prose, literature for children, debuts and translation. The translation award honors the best translation of foreign literature and is organized by the International House of Writers and Translators and the Latvian Writers’ Union.

Literary Residencies

The Latvian Writers’ Union is an organization that has been active since 1940. It brings together professional Latvian writers, literary scholars, critics and translators living in Latvia or abroad. Dubulti Writers’ House is the oldest writers’ residence in Latvia. It is located in the centre of Latvia’s most popular resort next to the path along which the great Latvian poet Aspazija took her daily walks, drawing inspiration for her works. In this quiet and comfortable residence, writers have individual rooms.

The Sigulda Culture Centre invites authors and illustrators of literary texts to apply for a joint project. The Sigulda Creative Residency program was launched in December 2021 by the multimedia artists’ union Orbīta. It aims to support and promote creative collaborations between literary authors and illustrators. The residency includes a stay for two weeks, a grant and an invitation to two workshops in the county’s educational institutions.

The International House of Writers and Translators in Ventspils aims to offer a meeting place to create a dialogue between cultures and to integrate Latvian literature into an international exchange. The International Writers’ and Translators’ House provides professional literary translators and writers a stay for up to four weeks with the opportunity to participate in cultural projects such as festivals and seminars.

Recently Published in Japan

“Jelgava 94”

Jānis Joņevs
Translated into Japanese by Ayumi Kurosawa.
Published in 2022 by Sakuhinsha.

“KIOSKS”

Anete Melece
Translated into Japanese by Ayumi Kurosawa.
Published in 2021 by USHIO PUBLISHING CO.,LTD.