Regīna Ezera’s 1977 novel is a brilliant documentation of the decade while also presenting timeless themes and attitudes, expressed through a colourful and often surreal narrative. Ezera embellishes her somewhat conventional writing style with fantasy and humour, moving from subtle irony to parody and the grotesque, at the same time incorporating real psychological insights. This novel’s unique value, however, is hidden in its sixth part, which informs us as that all the previous parts were visions seen only by the author. Thus Ezera skilfully builds up and tears down the boundaries between space and time, and the real and the surreal, illuminating the liminal states between life and death, and the living and the dead.It’s no coincidence that while Regīna Ezera was writing Smoulder in the East, in the West Tony Morrison was writing Song of Solomon.
By Nora Ikstena
Nora Ikstena is one of the most prominent and influential prose writers in Latvia. Soviet Milk, shortlisted for the Annual Literature Award, Besa, Celebration of Life, and The Virgin’s Lesson are some of her best known novels. Ikstena is also a prolific author of biographical fiction, nonfiction, scripts, essays, and collections of short prose. Ikstena is co-founder of the International Writers and Translators’ House in Ventspils.