And Other Stories Lithuanian-Language Reading Group discussion

Paulina Pukyte's writing

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message 1: by Stefan (new)

Stefan Tobler | 5 comments Hi,
I'm really happy Daiva Parulskiene introduced me to Paulina Pukyte's work.

I love the way one piece is a story, another is cultural commentary and yet another is a 'found' dialogue. Except of course that the boundaries aren't cut and dry.

I love the wicked humour and the serious thought in the pieces. I love being confronted with a mind that refuses to simply accept the mores and norms of the society she finds herself in, but can laugh at the absurdities she finds in Britain (where she lives) and elsewhere. The outsider's take on things is also about having grown up outside of the Western capitalist system, outside of a world of 24/7 advertising and so on.

I don't love the fact that I can't read all that much of her work. There are the pieces in Romas Kinka's translation that we have put up on her page on our website, and a few more pieces:

What do you think?
I'm especially asking readers of Lithuanian - I'd love to hear your thoughts on her whole books! (And if you don't read Lithuanian, let us know what you think of the extracts.)

message 2: by Jan (new)

Jan | 1 comments What I like in Pukyte' texts is universality of criticism. To make fun of Brits is quite banal. The do it brilliantly themselves, so to find anything new in this genre is difficult, but sometimes in Pukyte' texts it works very well. But she is not one-sided. She is also very critical about the Lithuanians and all their cliches, and she is merciless and very funny. As I have understood her books could be translated? I would love to have them, of course if I would be reminded.

message 3: by Emilija (new)

Emilija | 5 comments Funny and clever things (I do not know how to call them), critical readings of the society she lives in, from the perspective of the Lithuanian girl in London. Peculiarly able to create critical perspectives on how British see so called new Europe and what cliches are attached to that. And talks about in a good literary manner, and with a sense of humour!

message 4: by Observer (last edited Aug 16, 2010 01:32PM) (new)

Observer | 4 comments Mod
There are only few extracts by Pukyte in English, but probably the essence of what she does - a clever and important story in few sentences; funny observations on the British way of life; short and absurd Charms like dialogues; commentaries on corrupability and absurdity of the arts world. Laconic and honest. However, there are opinions that these stories are for the Lithuanian readers and would be not so relevant for the English reader. My question is - are they? Are they still interesting for the non-Lithuanian reader and does this perspective (of the East European / Lithuanian) interests the English language reader?

And another question: Pukyte is a master of various literary forms - short story, essay, commentary, dialogues. What piece you like most and why?

message 5: by Catherine (last edited Aug 31, 2010 11:40AM) (new)

Catherine (catherinestupp) | 2 comments "Refreshing" is definitely the word to describe Pukyte’s perspective on life in England/Western Europe. I love the idea for “Their Habits” and would be eager to read the entire book. “New Europe” and “The Question of Kissing” are both delightful, but I like where Pukyte is going with these so much, that I just wish the pieces were longer! I’m assuming these are not excerpts from stories, but are the whole things (right?), and would be curious to see if the entire book is a collection of stories this short, or if some might be longer.

Regarding whether or not this would be relatable to non-Lithuanian readers.. I think these stories (particularly those in "Their Habits") absolutely are. The stories are of course still clearly Lithuanian (or about Lithuanians abroad) in some ways, but they’re also about being in a foreign place.. Pukyte's humor is really wonderful and I am dying to read the rest of this book!

message 6: by Stefan (new)

Stefan Tobler | 5 comments Yes, Catherine, the short pieces in English in the pdf on her author page are all complete. Perhaps the brevity is the author's way of keeping us hungry for more?

message 7: by Irina (new)

Irina (iruchi) | 2 comments ''Their Habits' is indeed a very funny and quirky (if I may use that word) collection of every day observations which, I have absolutely no doubt, anyone from Lithuania can relate to.

Every story somehow resembles a phone call you make once in a while in order to tell your friends and family back home about the weirdest thing you saw on the underground the other day.

And although at first you might get the impression that the author finds all these cultural differences purely annoying (and then you ask yourself 'why does she still live here then?'), by the end of the last story you realise how much sympathy she has for London and it is probably the exact same 'twisted' sympathy most of us who came here in search of a better life have.

The language of the author is very easy to follow, but not primitive which makes the book even more charming. All in all - it is fascinating how Paulina Pukyte managed to capture what's on every Lithuanian's mind and put it into a clever and witty collection.

However, as Jan noticed, 'to make fun of British people is quite banal' and therefore Paulina Pukyte's insight might not be enough to make an impression to a non-Lithuanian reader. It would be quite interesting though to have an anthology of stories such as 'Their Habits' from other countries that are being represented in Britain.

message 8: by Anton (new)

Anton (zarasaia) | 1 comments I like the covers too

message 9: by Milda (new)

Milda | 1 comments Loved reading this book. Seriously funny, and a delight for anyone Brit or Alien. Look forward to the next Pukyte book!

message 10: by Lechuza (new)

Lechuza | 1 comments I've just read the translated extracts and I'm sorry to say I don't think much of them. Although this judgment is admittedly based on not a great deal of writing, I felt that, while the stories/snippets were occasionally amusing (I wouldn't say laugh out loud, though), such as the pigeon piece and the thoughts on the Swiss painting, every one had the feel of a blog or a caption to a picture to me. The observations of Brits' habits are really cliched - this is the kind of thing people discuss down the pub and I don't feel there is a place for it in a published book! Mind you, perhaps now that blogs are so prevalent, and Twitter, and every other short 'n' personal form of online writing, maybe this is inevitably something that books will now be doing more of. I just personally find it quite lacking, and want something a bit more meaty.

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