Photo courtesy Evgenia Levin / Bernardinai.lt
Saulius Šaltenis's career includes working as an editor, playwright, and screenwriter, and writing novels, short stories, and musicals. He helped found the cultural weekly Šiauras Atėnas in 1989 and actively took part in Lithuania's transition to independence. He then served as the Minister of Culture from 1996 to 1999. In 2020, he won the Lithuanian National Prize for his contributions to Lithuanian literature. A 2016 interview with the author is available here. Read an extract from Bees in the Snow here.
Marius Katiliškis (Albinas Marius Vaitkus, 1914–1980), worked as a librarian in the town of Pasvalys, Lithuania, and, after fleeing the Soviets in World War II, at menial jobs in Chicago, including at the Kimball Piano factory. And he wrote. He published his first collection of short stories as a refugee in Germany. His novels Užuovėja, Išėjusiems negrįžti, and other notable works came out in the U.S. Read an excerpt from Fall Comes from the Forest (Miskais ateina ruduo) here.
Photo courtesy Nijole Gavelienė
The Lithuanian master of the macabre, Ričardas Gavelis (1950-2002) is best known for his novel Vilnius Poker, first published in English by Open Letter in 2009 and included in the list of Best Translated Books for that year. Gavelis's works include seven novels, five short story collections, and several plays and film scenarios; his work has been translated into English, French, Swedish, Polish, and German. An interview given shortly after Vilnius Poker was published is available in translation here. Read an extract from The Life of Sun-Tzu in the Sacred City of Vilnius here. An essay on translating the book is available here.
Jurgis Kunčinas (1947-2002) was born in Alytus, Lithuania and studied German at Vilnius University. An extremely prolific writer and translator, Kunčinas wrote novels, short stories, plays, children’s stories, essays, satires, and radio plays. He has won many awards and honors in Lithuania, including an award from the Lithuanian Writers Union for the best novel of the year for Tūla in 1993. His works have been translated into Russian, Italian, Latvian, Swedish, Estonian, and German. Read an extract from Tūla here.
Twenty-six years old when his comic novel Frank Kruk raised a firestorm on both sides of the Atlantic, Petras Cvirka (1909-1947) went on to live an equally controversial life. Honored and glorified during the Soviet years, some now see him as a traitor to the Lithuanian nation. His statue in Vilnius, after a great deal of controversy, was removed only in 2020, but many of his books for children are still in print. Read an extract from Frank Kruk here.