“A Handful of Dust”: the Case of Estonian Russians and Existential Outsiderness


  • Anneli Kõvamees Tallinna Ülikool, Eesti keele ja kultuuri instituut




Estonian Russian literature, Andrei Ivanov, image studies, the depiction of Estonian Russians


The article deals with the definition of Estonian literature and the status of Estonian Russian literature by taking Andrei Ivanov’s novel A Handful of Dust (2011) as an example. When the literary panel of the annual awards of the Cultural Endowment did not nominate Ivanov’s novel, literary debate erupted over the question how to define Estonian literature and whether it included literature written in Russian. Using the branch of comparative literature, image studies, the second part of the article analyses the depiction of Estonian Russians in Ivanov’s novel A Handful of Dust. The Estonian Russian background proves to be a useful tool for creating a character who is alienated, who is an existential outsider, thus giving a piercing look into the modern world. The author deals with existential questions and depicts tendencies in the 21st century society where globalization, alienation, depression and loneliness are the keywords and the main character of the novel can be seen as the example of an existential outsider.


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