Fishes and Dragons Undinė Radzevičiūtė

Fishes and Dragons

Published: 2012

ISBN: 9789955236580

Number of pages: 408

Dimensions: 155 mm x 217 mm

Cover: Hardback

Publisher: UAB Baltų lankų leidyba

The title of the book symbolically refers to two cultures: Christian European and traditional Chinese. Two different stories are interwoven here: one depicts the life of a Jesuit painter in 18th century China, the other mostly takes place in an old-town flat of a present-day European city. The flat is inhabited by an old woman, her daughter and two adult granddaughters; it eventually turns out that one of them is writing the Chinese line of the book. The novel is suffused with dialogue that can be seen through the prism of Zen principles (as the author herself has suggested). On the other hand, the misunderstandings and playfulness in the book creates a comic effect with a tinge of the absurd. With her signature lapidary style, Undinė Radzevičiūtė has written a novel where the texture of the modern European story line is colored with oblique reflections of traditional Chinese culture and mentality. The Chinese narrative subtly reveals the unbridgeable gap between Christian European and traditional Chinese mindsets in the context of the failure of the Jesuits' missionary effort.

Fishes and Dragons is the winner of the European Union Prize for Literature 2015. The aim of the European Union Prize for Literature is to put the spotlight on the creativity and diverse wealth of Europe's contemporary literature in the field of fiction, to promote the circulation of the literature within Europe and encourage greater interest in non-national literary works.

Undinė Radzevičiūtė

Undinė Radzevičiūtė (1967) is the most un-Lithuanian of Lithuanian writers. She maintains an aloof, almost arrogant stance, if she ever honors the public with an appearance. She does not mix with the literary world, and on the cover of her first book she wrote a piece openly criticising the Lithuanian language and anything that has traditionally been considered a value of Lithuanian literature. However, she has much to offer for her iconoclastic antics. She was among the first to offer a broader, more cosmopolitan definition of the national identity, one that includes neighbouring nations, which over history have had much cultural and genetic influence, even though she does not really bother with definitions. Instead, she writes about things as they are: her language is peppered with foreign words and Russian swearwords. An expert at brevity and black humour, she does not even need to break out of the tradition of Lithuanian literature: she clearly never belonged there in the first place.

Baden Badeno nebus (2011)

Radzevičiūtė’s third book, a collection of short stories, contains, according to the author, ‘stories that the characters would rather hide than tell’. Many of them border on the absurd, almost all of them are weirdly funny, some contain grotesque details, and each one is surprising and unexpected. A boy is born with the hands of a thief. A girl is born with the hands of a thief, but no one notices. A writer tattoos his name on his chest, so that after his death his book can be bound in it. Set anywhere and everywhere in place and time, the stories do not just illustrate the random absurdity of this world, they reach for something unexpected, weird and unaccountable in the core of human existence.

B i b l i o g r a p h y :
Strekaza: novel of black humour. – Vilnius: Tyto alba, 2003; Baltos lankos, 2013.
Frankburgas: novel of black humour. – Vilnius: Tyto alba, 2010.
Baden Badeno nebus: short stories. – Vilnius: Baltos lankos, 2011.
Žuvys ir drakonai: novel. – Vilnius: Baltos lankos, 2013.
Apversti piramidę: short story. – Book: Troleibuso istorijos: collection of best modern short stories. – Vilnius: Kitos knygos, 2014.
180: novel. – Vilnius: Baltos lankos, 2015.

A w a r d s :
2003 The book “Strekaza” was included in the list of twelve most creative books of the year.
2011 The book “Baden Badeno nebus” was included in the list of twelve most creative books of the year and nominated in the Book of the Year Campaign, in prose section.
2013 The book “Žuvys ir drakonai” was included in the list of twelve most creative books of the year and nominated in the Book of the Year Campaign, in prose section.
2015 EU literary award for the book “Žuvys ir drakonai”.

Other books by Undinė Radzevičiūtė


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Publishing house “Baltos lankos” was established in 1992 with intention to publish high quality literature. The range of our publications is very wide: new books by Lithuanian authors, translations of elitist foreign literature as well as most popular works of fiction, crime fiction, monographs, children book, academic writings are constantly being brought out. “Baltos lankos” continuously search for new possibilities to publish new titles, collaborate with translators, national and international authors.