The Conspiracy and Other Stories

Jaan Kross

translated from the Estonian by Eric Dickens
Harvill Press 1995
A book review by Danny Yee © 1996
The unhappy fate of the Baltic states during and after the Second World War, caught between two totalitarian states, makes grim enough reading as history. Jaan Kross' collection of six short stories brings home its consequences for Estonians of his generation. The stories are largely autobiographical; their protagonist, Peeter Mirk, is Kross' alter ego. They involve the repatriation of German Estonians in 1939, attempts to flee to Finland during the German occupation, and imprisonment first by the Germans and then by the Russians. These were not happy times and Kross' are not, on the surface, happy stories: four of them end with deaths and, moreover, deaths for which Peeter bears responsibility. Nevertheless there is no bleakness or despair in Kross' writing. He has a wry, understated humour and a detachment which help him to maintain an upbeat mood — and which one suspects must have stood him in good stead during his own time in prisons and labour camps.

July 1996

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%T The Conspiracy and Other Stories
%A Kross, Jaan
%M Estonian
%F Dickens, Eric
%I Harvill Press
%D 1995 [1988]
%O paperback
%G ISBN 1860460062
%P xiii,238pp