Eesti venekeelse kirjanduse nullindate põlvkond: vastuvõtt ja tõrked omaks tunnistamisel / The Generation of the 2000s in the Russian Literature of Estonia: Acceptance and Obstacles to Acknowledgement


  • Igor Kotjuh Tallinn University



The article researches the development of Russian-language literature in Estonia through the lens of Estonian literature. The article focuses on what is conditionally referred to as “authors of the younger generation” (born in 1970 and later) since the creative works of representatives of this generation have attracted a lot of attention. That is the “naughts-generation”, as the authors of this generation made their debuts in literature in the 2000s.

The article views the Estonian reaction to the books of Igor Kotjuh, P. I. Filimonov and Andrei Ivanov translated into Estonian. The analysis makes use of the reception theory of Hans Robert Jauss and Wolfgang Iser, scholars from Konstanz University, which makes it possible to propose two operational hypotheses: (1) numerous reviews hint at the fact that Estonian literary journals and critics do not consider works of Estonian Russian-speaking authors to be foreign literature; (2) as works of the Russian-speaking authors of Estonia have not been represented in a single literary anthology which has appeared in the 2000s, it can be concluded that there are certain obstacles regarding the works of Russian-speaking authors in Estonia.

The Russian-speaking writers of Estonia have had good co-operation with Estonian colleagues and media, since they speak Estonian and their works have continuously appeared in Estonian translations. At the same time, the Russian-speaking literature of Estonia has not become a fully valued part of Estonian literature. Three major controversies can be found in the reception, where the horizons of Estonian readers and Russian-speaking Estonian authors do not coincide:

(1) Literary-theoretical controversy. Estonian literary science has always identified Estonian literature via the Estonian language, yet the Russian-speaking authors who made their debuts in the 2000s are convinced that their works are, among other things, part of Estonian literature.

(2) Political. Readers see Russian-speaking Estonian writers as trustees of topical political issues turning to them for appropriate comments. Consequently, readers do not respond to works of Russian-speaking writers in Estonia as pure fiction, which results in devaluation of Russian-speaking writers' artistic significance and their inability to compete on an equal footing with their Estonian colleagues.

(3) Social understanding regarding the national cultural background of an author. The Russian-speaking authors of Estonia are multi-cultural creative personalities, yet reviewers do not always pay attention to this fact, as the reigning socio-historical paradigm defines a person according to a single national-cultural identity.

The generation of the 2000s of Russian–speaking authors in Estonia exists at the borders of the literary-theoretical and social levels. Estonian literary studies and public opinion have historically adopted the literature of Baltic Germans and Võro-language literature. If present events continue, at some point the same is bound to happen with the Russian-speaking literature of Estonia.


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Author Biography

Igor Kotjuh, Tallinn University

Igor Kotjuh – a post-graduate student of literary studies at Tallinn University, a poet and the editor-in-chief of the e-zine New Clouds ( His main focus is the Russian-speaking literature of Estonia as a separate phenomenon, as well as through the lens of both Estonian and Russian literatures.