It’s not every day you get invited to meet people from Estonia, much less people who comprise Estonia’s power artistic couple: its most famous writer and in-demand musician. Where is Estonia? I myself had to look at a map (N of Latvia, W of Russia,) but after meeting the accomplished writer Kristiina Ehin and her husband of three years, Silver Sepp (yes, Silver is his given name). I personally would like to be transported to this magical place and be imbued with their charm, talent, and, oh yeah, startling good looks. Consuming their terrific work, alas, will just have to suffice.
A newly launched publishing house based here in Los Angeles, Unnamed Press, is responsible for this visit. They’ve released (in translation, of course) Ehin’s latest book, this one of fantastical short stories, Walker on Water. (Ehin is also a poet, and, pre-marriage, spent a year living on an isolated nature reserve where in addition to picking up trash, she had ample time to write.)
And tonight at 7:30pm at Skylight Books, you can see them together.
We met up in Grand Park on Thursday in between various appearances they had around southern California this week.
Both take great pride in expressing themselves in their native language, Estonian, which Ehin says is considered to be the most difficult to learn after Japanese. Preserving and promoting their unique mother tongue–not escaping it for larger audiences–is part of their pleasure: “Me myself, I would never write in English. I’m mostly a poet and I don’t sense the language as well as Estonian,” said Ehin, who teaches creative writing at the University of Tartu. “Sometimes some of my students ask me if they could present their work in English, and I say that ‘no, you can’t if it’s not your first language.'”
As for Silver Sepp, his haunting, lyrical music transcends the spoken word. Listen to it a bit and you won’t even notice you don’t understand the words.