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Books and films about the Baltic Countries

My husband and I are traveling to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania this September. To prepare for trips, we like to watch movies and read books about the counties we will visit. I prefer historical novels and memoirs rather than straight history books. We recently watched "The Fencer" on DVD from our local library. The film was the true story of an Estonian young man returning to Estonia after serving in the German army during WW2. We will watch "The Singing Revolution" that was mentioned in a recent post to a question about Tallinn. We both have read "Among the Living and the Dead, a Tale of Exile and Homecoming on the War Roads of Europe" by Inara Verzemnieks. The book is the story of the author's family in Latvia and the United States.

Any suggestions for other books and films about Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania?

Posted by
2081 posts

I enjoyed--though it was dark in tone it was beautifully written--the novel "Purge" by Finnish-Estonian writer Sofi Oksanen, it dealt with two women who had secret pasts--resistance, collusion, rape, enslavement--during the Soviet occupation of Estonia. Also "The Girls, Alone--6 Days in Estonia" by Bonnie Rough (only available on Kindle), engaging story of her attempts to discover the fate of her great-great-grandmother during WWII. For a more humorous and current take on Estonia, there's the 4 books written by Justin Petrone, starting with My Estonia: Passport Forgery, Meat Jelly Eaters and Other Stories. I have Estonian heritage so tried to read everything I could that wasn't a history book prior to my trip to Tallinn in 2013--not too much out there.

I really loved "The Fencer", saw it at an art house theatre in Berkeley and everyone clapped at the end.

Posted by
30 posts

Christa, your information is just what I needed! I have "Purge" and " When the Doves Disappeared" on my "to read"' shelf. I believe I will start with "When the Doves Disappeared". I have ordered "The Girls Alone" for my Kindle.
Many thanks.

Posted by
5017 posts

Ellen - I started a thread on this subject (I'm also headed for Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia - in about two weeks) over here:

Under Tips & Trip Reports > Recommended Books & Movies > Any films about the Baltic countries?

The obvious (and relatively easy to find) choices seem to be The Fencer and The Singing Revolution (both of which I liked).

Check the linked thread for maybe one or two more options.

Posted by
30 posts

David, thank you for posting the link to your thread. I should have done a better job of searching for previous threads. I will be looking for your trip report later this summer.

Posted by
2081 posts

I'll be looking forward to both of your reports as I want to make a return to Estonia and then down to Riga and Vilnius, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Posted by
660 posts

A novel by Ruta Sepetys, the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee, is Between Shades of Gray, 2011. It is a story of the Soviets sending families to Siberia. Enjoy!