Best-selling Latvian author gives public talk in Sheffield

A best-selling author from the Baltic whose book caused a stir in her home country is heading to Sheffield for a public talk about her work.
Latvian writer and journalist Guna RozeLatvian writer and journalist Guna Roze
Latvian writer and journalist Guna Roze

Latvian writer and journalist Guna Roze’s novel was among the biggest-selling books in Latvia when it was published in 2015, and became the subject of fierce discussion and interest in the Latvian media.

Now University of Sheffield historian Dr Miriam Dobson is to host Guna at Sheffield Central Library tonight, Tuesday, November 7, for a one-hour discussion about her work. A limited number of free tickets is still available.

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The book – The 101st Kilometre – draws on 58-year-old Guna’s family’s experiences in their Latvian home village, Bridaga, after the Second World War.

Russian expert Dr Dobson, who teaches in the university’s History department, said: “Before WWII there had been nothing unique about Bridaga. But, after the Soviet occupation of Latvia, its location – just over 100km from the capital city, Riga – shaped its history.”

Soviet rules prevented ‘undesirables’, criminals, and released inmates from the Gulag forced labour camps from settling any closer than 100km from large urban centres – which meant they were able to settle in villages including Bridaga.

Bridaga became a place of exile, and measures to ‘cleanse’ the capital led to groups being banished from both the metropolis and its surroundings. In Bridaga, barracks were built to house the ‘social parasites’ ejected from Riga.

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Dr Dobson added: “When Roze’s book was published, the memory of occupation, exile, and the ‘zones of shame’ became the subject of much interest in the Latvian media, and raised important questions about Latvia’s relationship to the Russian occupation.”

The talk takes place on Tuesday, November 7, at 7pm, in the Carpenter Room at Sheffield Central Library, Surrey Street.

  • Visit to book.