The Book of Riga

A suicide attempt, staged to attract as much attention as possible, from the top of St. Peter’s Church, quickly evolves into an outlandish and absurd, televised spectacle...

When a PA is invited into her boss’s office one day to observe a protest unfold, just as he predicts, in the streets below, she begins to suspect his powers of foresight might extend beyond mere business matters...

Finally moving into the house of her dreams, on the island of Kīpsala, a single mother discovers a strange affinity with the previous occupant...

Riga may be over 800 years old as a city, but its status as capital of an independent Latvia is only a century old, with half of that time spent under Soviet rule. Despite this, it has established itself as a vibrant, creative hub, attracting artists, performers, and writers from across the Baltic region. The stories gathered here chronicle this growth and on-going transformation, and offer glimpses into the dark humour, rich history, contrasting perspectives, and love of the mythic, that sets the city’s artistic community apart. As its history might suggest, Riga is a work in progress; and for many of the characters in these stories, it is the possibilities of what the city might become, more than merely what it is now, that drives the imagination of its people.

This book is published with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia and The Latvian Writers Union.

Foreword by former President of Latvia (1999-2007) Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga.

Translated from the Latvian by Kaija Straumanis, Suzanne McQuade, Uldis Balodis, Ieva Lešinska, Mārta Ziemelis and Žanete Vēvere Pasqualini.


'Contemporary Latvian writing at its best.' - Baltic Review

'The authors write with a distinctive, Baltic voice... The city shines through as a beguiling survivor of its history, adapting whilst retaining its hold on certain citizens and visitors. I had never before considered visiting Riga. After reading this collection, I am tempted.' - Never Imitate 

'Riga, it seems, is at a crossroads, and its writers are imagining several futures.' - West Camel, The Baltic Riveter (London Book Fair 2018)

One of Culture Trip's Literary Editor's Picks for April: 'Now is the perfect time to discover the rich, literary world of Latvia.'

'I think that the concept of this book... works so well because of the nature of short stories. I’ve been shown glimpses of Riga through the lens of several characters and their perspective creators. Even though it is a collection of fiction, I have tapped into what could have been people of Riga: old, young, privileged, and unfortunate. I have visited the Castle of Light, the bustling streets of Old Town and the quiet, picturesque residential streets of Kipsala Island. I went into reading this book with high expectations, weary because of how that usually leads to disappointment. However, when I finished the last pages of The Book of Riga I breathed that familiar sigh of content, pleased.' - Selcouth Station


Editor Becca Parkinson, as interviewed at the London Book Fair Baltic Focus by Latvia Public Media. Listen now (6 minute listen).
My Take on the Baltic States - read the editor's blog on Riga and the collection

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Book Details

8 Apr 2018