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Diary of a Blood Donor (Eastern European Literature) (Eastern European Literature Series) Paperback – 5 Aug 2008


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a disturbing and comic tale of obsession, politics and the vagaries of literature.' -Sam Munson, New York Post

About the Author

Mati Unt was an Estonian writer, essayist and theatre director. Unt's first novel, written at the age of 18 after having finished high school, was Huvasti, kollane kass. This made him famous all over Estonia.

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Amazon.com: 1 review
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
My Estonia! 6 Nov. 2013
By Bryan Byrd - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Estonian novelist Mati Unt (1944-2005) plays fast and loose with the outline of Bram Stoker's DRACULA in this 1990 novel, transporting the principle players and setting to his home country, and twisting the finale into something more appropriate to the rumbling changes experienced by the Baltic States in the late 80's. It is less a horror story (or not a horror story at all) as it is allegory, and readers familiar with Estonian history from the time of Glasnost and Perestroika will doubtless appreciate it for its commentary on that society. On the other hand, readers like me, whose knowledge of this part of the world is appallingly incomplete, will probably recognize that there are a lot of things being said, but have a devil of a time figuring out exactly what.

Still, there were sections of the book that I enjoyed - the first chapter probably most of all. I liked Unt's style overall, which I thought was quirky but interesting, often making room for asides concerning Estonian history or politics, and sometimes lapsing into meta-fictional devices by speaking directly to the reader. This is also what make the book frustrating - I knew that what I was reading had merit, but my frame of reference was too small to recognize most of it. My guess is that this was a work BY an Estonian, FOR Estonians. I doubt that a wide, international audience was what the author had in mind.

But, I could be completely wrong about that last. In the end, I thought the talent behind the book rated four stars, even if my own reaction was, 'eh, it's ok.' One unlooked for result was that it galvanized me to read up on Estonian history, and I rectified at least a small part of my ignorance. Seems like a place I'd like to visit, if I were to ever have the chance.

Readers with a vast knowledge of the Baltic region in general, and Estonia in particular, may find this novel worthwhile, but even a dummy like me can tell it's rooted in a time period long gone. It would seem to me that most of the concerns Mr. Unt raises have disappeared or evolved beyond recognition by now. Doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile to look back, though.

This is another nice edition by the Dalkey Archive Press, whose publication of Knowledge of Hell by Antonio Lobo Antunes so impressed me at the time that I always make a point of picking up titles from their catalog whenever I run across them in the various places I hunt for books. In this case, I'm exposed to a writer I likely would never have found any other way, so kudos for their efforts at bringing the obscure to light.
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