Gundega Repše

Writer and art scholar Gundega Repše was born in 1960 in Riga. She studied art history and theory at the Latvian State Art Academy (until 1985). She was a lecturer for the Artists Union (1985-1992), contributing to the magazine Liesma, the newspapers Labrīt and Izglītība un Kultūra, and the magazine Karogs. Her prose has been published since 1979. Gundega Repše has published ten novels (Thumbelina (Īkstīte, 2000), The Orphanage (Bāreņu nams, 2008), the trilogy Heavy Metal (Smagais metāls, Omnibus edition in 2012), six collections of short stories and many books of non-fiction, including biographies, literary diaries, conversations with writers, and essays. Gundega Repše’s short story How Important Is It to be Ernest? was included in the prose anthology Best European Fiction 2013. The novel The Tin Scream (Alvas kliedziens, 2002; the first part of Heavy Metal) was published in Sweden in 2010). Her works have been translated into English, French, German, Lithuanian, Georgian, and Armenian. Gundega Repše has received the Rainis and Aspazija Foundation Prize (1993) the Annual Latvian Literature Award for Thumbelina (Īkstīte, 2000). Her most recent novel Nice People (Jauki ļaudis) was published in 2014.

"Nice People"
The latest novel by Gundega Repše, "Nice People," is a powerful, philosophically and emotionally fine tuned tale of human loneliness. 

The world is so absurd that the decision to economize by combining an old people's home with a youth rehabilitation centre seems almost natural. With the arrival of the youths traumatized by life, the old and new residents begin to share memories and experiences: the indifference or the overbearing care of relatives; the scars left by history; bigger and smaller betrayals in the name of love and well-being. At the home, this end station of sorts, from which there is little hope of returning to normal life, everyone faces forced "company," which amounts to being trapped in loneliness. The only guardian angels and prison guards are the director of the home, a nurse and a priest – the representatives of secular and spiritual power.

Both the linear tragedy of an individual human life and forced socialization as a metaphor for power allows this novel to be perceived and understood in the context of the crazy events taking place in today's world, be it in Georgia, Ukraine, Syria, Gaza or wherever.