Very prolific, he wrote mostly half-fictionalised autobiographical stories, some novel-length, some shorter. He also published several books of poetry including poetry for children and a few collections of non-fiction essays. He was a very proficient translator from German. In life and in work, he was known for his ability to sense beauty in the mundane, even in dirtiness, and for his humour, sometimes bitter-sweet, but often side-splitting, which is rare in Lithuanian literature.
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Very prolific, he wrote mostly half-fictionalised autobiographical stories, some novel-length, some shorter. He also published several books of poetry including poetry for children and a few collections of non-fiction essays.
He was a very proficient translator from German. In life and in work, he was known for his ability to sense beauty in the mundane, even in dirtiness, and for his humour, sometimes bitter-sweet, but often side-splitting, which is rare in Lithuanian literature.
He is also known and admired for his penchant for describing well-known places and cityscapes usually of Vilnius but also of his native Alytus , and for transforming them into something intrinsically romantic and beautiful. His often drunken vagabond characters invoke comparisons with Charles Bukowski and beatnik literature. Thus, the novel is three-layers. It is a story of star-crossed lovers and unattainable, impossible and in a way incredible, imagined love.
It is a love song for Vilnius, seen through the soft focus of bleary drunken eyes. It is also a valid social commentary on the late Soviet years, and the situation of a well-educated, creative person who is at odds with the regime, and thus has no place in society. Vasteras: Forfattarhuset, Polish : Tula.
‘Tula’ by Jurgis Kuncinas
Taking place predominantly in Lithuania during the Soviet occupation, it is the story of a man struggling with an alcohol addiction and his love for Tula, whom he had an intense but short-lived relationship with. The unnamed narrator confirms early on that Tula is dead. Nevertheless, she is the reason behind some of his actions and is constantly in his thoughts, while he pictures a life of poverty and homelessness. He recalls various moments from his life, particularly those connected with his deprived neighbourhood in Vilnius, frequently in a stream of consciousness style and, at first, in no specific chronological order. There he has known destitution and failure. Tula did not always live there, but she persistently makes up an appearance in his reminiscences anyway. He mentions various of his relatives and revives many episodes from the time of the Second World War and the s, for example.
Jurgis Kunčinas - Tūla (in English)
The theme of the city is of relatively recent origin in Lithuanian prose, which has traditionally regarded the countryside as a privileged site of authentic human development. Indeed, the city and city life have come to occupy a prominent place in Lithuanian literary consciousness only upon the demise of the Soviet empire. Although it is, by now, almost trite to dwell upon the largely negative architectural and urban legacy of Soviet rule, the persistence and effects of this inheritance cannot be ignored. Even today the residue of an oppressive ideology is palpable in the familiar trappings of the Soviet city, reminders of an era of kitsch and waste and the insignificance of the individual. In Vilnius, as in other old cities, the Blitzkrieg of forced urbanization has created a fragmented urban identity and a near total discontinuity in architectural history reflecting the upheavals of the Soviet era.