Giedra Radvilavičiūtė (born 1960) could probably be called the most fashionable Lithuanian writer. This is strange, because she is one of the staunchest critics of the proliferation of poor-quality literature, and an outspoken advocate of a higher quality of reading. After teaching literature in a school and briefly doing research work in the USA, her writing career began in the late 1990s, when she started publishing essays in the cultural press. We might say that she is the mother of the modern Lithuanian essay, which is now the most popular genre of prose; but few can compare with her in terms of controlled style and structure. Her essays deal with everyday experiences, which are transformed as if by magic into wonderful spectacles. She often discusses the situation of women, and questions various cultural and social stereotypes of the woman. A self-confessed admirer of Vladimir Nabokov, she is quite frank and personal in her literary work.
Šiąnakt aš miegosiu prie sienos (Tonight I Shall Sleep by the Wall). Vilnius: Baltos lankos, 1st ed. 2010, 2nd ed. 2015. – 312 p.
Radvilavičiūtė’s second collection of essays, shortlisted for the Book of the Year Award in 2011, and a winner of the European Union Prize for Literature in 2012, in some ways continues the themes and moods of the first collection. The main character, if essays can be said to have characters at all, is a single and lonely woman of a certain age. However, the first book dealt with relationships between men and women much more directly. This one is more circumspect, and the emphasis is on loneliness rather than on relationships. Loneliness is dreaded, desired and impossible to achieve. The central theme is complemented by a broad variety of other themes, easily discernible references to mundane, everyday life, from brand names to Hollywood stars. It reveals her personal attitude towards society and its problems. Some critics note that these themes make the book easy to read for a very wide audience, hence its popularity. But it is not ‘popular’ literature. As writing, it is both complicated and skilfully controlled. The doyenne of the essay keeps getting better at it.
Croatian: Noćas ću ja spavati do zida. Zagreb: Disput, 2017
German: Der lange Spaziergang auf einer kurzen Mole oder: Mein Spiel gegen mich selbst: selected essays. Wiesbaden: Corso Verlag, 2017
Noerwegian: I natt sover jeg ved veggen: selected essays. Tvedestrand: Bokbyen ved Skagerrak, 2017
English: Those Whom I Would Like to Meet Again. Dalkey Archive Press, 2013