Rein Saluri

Short stories Rein Saluri


About Rein Saluri

Rein Saluri (22. IX 1939 - 13. X 2023) was an Estonian writer, most of whose work consists of stories and plays. In the internal monologues in his works he reveals the recesses of his characters’ minds, indicating haunting or oppressive situations in their backgrounds. Saluri frequently deals with the themes of identity, memory, the past and home(lessness), and touches on broader existential, social and ecological problems.

Rein Saluri was born in the village of Tammiku in Salla parish, Virumaa county. In 1946 his farming family was deported to Siberia. Saluri’s schooling began at Tammiku village school, continued in Tobolsk, and from 1951, when he came back to Estonia, at Otepää and Tartu secondary schools. From 1959 to 1964 he studied biology at the University of Tartu, and as a postgraduate in genetics at the University of Leningrad from 1964 to 1966. Saluri’s work as a journalist began in 1967 in the editorial office of the popular science journal Horisont. A year later he became chief secretary at the journal for young people Noorus, which in the nineteen-sixties he turned into the standard-bearer of the reforming movement in literature. With his colleagues, Saluri promoted the idea of organising the Noorus summer camps for literature. From 1972 to 1975 he was literary editor at the Tallinn Drama Theatre. Later he worked as a freelance author and alternately in the editorial office of Looming and on the board of the Writers’ Union. Since 1974 until his death Saluri belonged to the Writers’ Union; in 1988 he became a Merited Writer of the Estonian SSR. From 1962 to 1989 he was a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
Saluri began his literary activity in his schooldays, when he published stories on subjects from nature in school almanacs and in the newspaper Edasi. His works started consistently appearing in the second half of the sixties. Critical attention was aroused at that time by the short story Krahvi poeg ('The Count’s Son', 1968). Saluri’s first prose pieces experimented around psychological modernism. They depict an astonishing landscape of consciousness to the male protagonist, in which the real and the ghostly are blended, operating in different time-frames. The present-time topic is confused with the protagonist's urge to dig into the past, to seek for traces of truth out of the times of war and Stalinism. The pressure associated with the past speaks through the identity of the protagonist, but it speaks of indirect and generalized national memory. Saluri’s earlier mental-intuitive prose is gathered in the collections Mälu ('Memory', 1972) and Kõnelused ('Talks', 1976). Thereafter, alongside the shorter pieces, there began to appear longer narratives, such as Puusõda ('The Tree-War', 1985) or cycles of stories. Internal monologue is framed by the narrative topic: in addition to the main protagonist, there are more subsidiary protagonists, and alongside the existential themes there are searches for an ethical stance and ecological problems, such as alienation from nature. In some texts, such as Mees teab ('The Man Knows', 1979) and Kala metsas ('Fish in a Forest', 1981) he contrasts an ethical and naturalistic attitude to life with an urban and adaptive, compromising attitude. In the spirit of making matters public in the time of transition, he conveys the psychological climate of the Stalin era in the short story 5.3.53 (1987) and the play Minek ('Going'), on the subject of the deportations. The compilation Koguja ('The Collector', 1990) represented a breakthrough in his prose creation.
In the nineteen-seventies Saluri also became known as a playwright. The themes are the same as in his stories. The staging of the play Külalised ('The Visitors') at the Drama Theatre on Tallinn became a theatrical event in itself. His other plays that have been staged – Kes ma olen? ('Who Am I?'), Poiste sõidud ('The Boys’ Journeys'), Lasteaiaonu ('The Kindergarten Uncle'), Kadunud isa ('The Lost Father') and Minek attracted attention. Over time, a playfulness and tragicomic sense has crept into the dialogue texts, with a more laconic style.
Saluri also wrote numerous stories about animals and birds for children, criticism and press articles about literature, as well as radio plays and dramatisations, and translated fiction from Russian and English. The collection Katked ('Fragments') contains marginalia as well has his personal memoirs.
Saluri was awarded three Friedbert Tuglas short story prizes for his works Mälu (1972), Lõimetishoole ('Care of the Brood', 1981) and 5.3.53 (1987), and three of the annual Juhan Smuul literatury prizes for the play Poiste sõidud (in 1977), the prose collections Uksed lahti, uksed kinni  ('Doors Open, Doors Closed') and Kala metsas (in 1982) and for the play Minek (in 1989).

I. S. (Translated by C. M.)

Books in Estonian

Short prose
Mälu. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1972, 134 lk. [Jutud.]
Kõnelused 1972–1974. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1976, 175 lk.  [Jutud, 'Poiste sõda' (näidend).]
Mees teab. Tallinn: Perioodika (Loomingu Raamatukogu), 1979, 56 lk.
Rebane räästa all. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1979, 180 lk. [Jutud, näidendid.]
Kala metsas. Tallinn: Perioodika (Loomingu Raamatukogu), 1981, 47 lk. 
Uksed lahti, uksed kinni. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1981, 213 lk. [Jutud.]
Üks, kaks ja korraga: kolm lugu. Tallinn, Eesti Raamat, 1983, 136 lk.
Puusõda. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1985, 240 lk. [Jutud.]
Vaikne elu. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1988, 140 lk. [Jutud, näidend.]
Naised ja loomad. Tallinn: Varrak, 1996, 78 lk. [Jutud.]
Katked: (1958–1999). Tallinn: Perioodika (Loomingu Raamatukogu), 1999, 72 lk.

Children’s books
Kuidas: kümme lugu Annele ja Kadrile. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1977, 44 lk.  
Koduloomad. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1978, 32 lk.  
Konnad ja maod. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1979, 20 lk.
Linnud. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1981, 47 lk.  
Metsloomad. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1982, 47 lk.  
Ühed loomad kõik. Tallinn: Valgus, 1998, 67 lk.

Külalised: näidend 2 vaatuses. Tallinn: Perioodika (Loomingu Raamatukogu), 1974, 48 lk. [2. trükk: 1989.]
Kõnelused 1972–1974. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1976, 175 lk.  [Jutud, 'Poiste sõda' (näidend).]
Rebane räästa all. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1979, 180 lk. [Jutud, näidendid.]
Vaikne elu. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1988, 140 lk. [Jutud, näidend.]
Sõiduraamat. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1989, 117 lk. [Sisu: 'Minek', 'Poiste sõidud', 'Külalised'.]
Tobukesed: kolm nukrat janti. Tallinn: Perioodika (Loomingu Raamatukogu), 1995, 78 lk.

Selected Works
Koguja: valik tekste (1967–1987). Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1990, 397 lk.