He is one of the most renowned authors of contemporary Estonian literature, both as a novelist, and a playwright. Kivirähk has also written numerous screenplays (several of them for animated cartoons), children’s books and radio shows. Known as the “grand young man” of Estonian drama, Kivirähk’s oeuvre is branded as national to the core. All his works elaborate on the search for identity and elucidation of taboos of a small nation, mostly in a manner of friendly irony (Estonian Funeral).
The classic tale of Romeo and Juliet, in his interpretation, is twisted into romance between Romeo, boy from waning village and Julia, a (roe) deer. The fable results in an absurdly deviant and macabre story with a surprising end. The author’s sense of language reveals itself in ordinary situations which are combined with allusions to fantasy world, so the extreme reality of everyday life becomes pathetically comical or even surreal, but yet it remains humanly close to viewers. In his recent plays Kivirähk makes use of biographic materials from the history of Estonian and European culture. The play The Surrealists emanates from biographies of surrealists such as Dali, Breton, Duschamp, Tzara, Bunuel et al. The Theatre Paradise offers a humorous view of the 100-year history of Estonian theatre, and Voldemar is based on the life of Voldemar Panso, the legendary man of Estonian theatre and the founder of theatre academy. For Voldemar, Kivirähk was awarded as best Estonian playwright of 2007. He has also been awarded many other prizes, such as the literary prize of the Estonian Cultural Endowment, Estonian National Cultural Prize, several prizes for his children’s books, including a Latvian price, and in 2014 he won the French literary prize for the best foreign novel.
1997 Attempt on Caesar’s Life (Atentaat Caesarile) – Russian
2000 The Days of Parrots (Papagoide päevad) – Russian
2002 The Holy Grail (Püha Graal) – English, Latvian
2002 Estonian Funeral (Eesti matus) – English, Latvian, Russian
2003 The Blue Wagon (Helesinine vagun) – English, Hungarian, Russian
2004 ABC Book (Aabitsa kukk) – English, German, Russian
2004 Romeo and Juliet (Romeo ja Julia) – English, Russian
2007 Voldemar (Life of Voldemar Panso) – English