Nora Ikstena

Writer Nora Ikstena was born in 1969 in Riga. After obtaining a degree in Philology from the University of Latvia in 1992, she took courses in English literature at Columbia University. In 1998, she was guest editor of The Review of Contemporary Fiction issue dedicated to Latvian fiction. Nora Ikstena is the author of four novels Celebrating Life (Dzīves svinēšana, 1998), The Virgin's Lesson (Jaunavas mācība, 2001), Amour Fou (2009), Besa (2012), three collections of short stories, including Life Stories (Dzīves stāsti, 2004, published in English), two books of fairy-tales (most recently  – Fairy-Tales of Ulubele (Ulubeles pasakas, 2014) and many books of biographical fiction, non-fiction, and essays. Nora Ikstena has received the Annual Latvian Literature Award for Life Stories (2004) and The Indefinite Was (Nenoteiktā bija, together with Imants Ziedonis, 2006) and the Baltic Assembly Prize for Literature for The Indefinite Was (2006). Translations of her books have been published in Lithuania, Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, Georgia, and Canada, she has also contributed to short fiction anthologies in the Czech Republic, Germany, the United Kingdom and the USA. Ikstena’s short story Elza Kuga’s Old Age Dementia was included in the prose anthology Best European Fiction 2011.

"Fairy-Tales of Ulubele"
"Ulubeles pasakas” is a collection of literary fairy-tales in which Nora Ikstena follows in the footsteps of the classics of the genre, such as Hans-Christian Andersen, Oscar Wilde, and Latvian writer Kārlis Skalbe.

"Ikstena has dedicated the book to her native town of  Ikšķile, which has served as the source of the fairy-tale protagonists, landscapes and events; it is the [paradise] of the writer's childhood. The fairy-tales include mythological plots familiar from Latvian legends and fairy-tales, echoes from Latvian history and the life stories of real people. What happens in Ulubele? Well, the same things that happen in Latvia. Old Meinhard (who may or may not be the bishop and saint we know from history) is awaiting the magical moment of the ebbing of the waters (which may or may not be the Daugava River), during [autumn] ghost time, the fallen Soldier comes over with the fog; a gardener tries to grow a silver apple-tree, neglecting  the rest of the garden, the Scribe opens a language school, the Artist paints the seasons but from time to time, a mysterious creature enters the town that is upset with the entire world."– Bārbala Simsone, KDiena