As the First World War comes to an end, chaos takes over in much of Europe and even the victors sense that the old certainties have been lost in the massacre. In Latvia it appears that two centuries of Russian rule are coming to an end, but other powers and destabilising factors persist. Pauls Bankovskis’s novel 18 examines this most important of years in his country’s history reveals how a new republic emerged from disorder and chance, gradually but also erratically. Painstaking in his research, he even walked himself the full length of the escape route to Finland taken by his protagonist. This is the story of a year and its far from unified people. Two different Latvias, almost a century apart, one looking uncertainly to the future and the other uncomprehendingly to the past, inhabit very different eras and use each other to inform their own actions.
Born in Līgatne, Latvia in 1973, Pauls Bankovskis is a prolific writer and novelist. In decade he has published ten novels, two short story collections, a children’s book and a work of non-fiction. His books have been translated into English, French, Russian, Finnish, Swedish, Czech and Lithuanian. He studied glasswork at the Riga School for Applied Arts and philosophy at the University of Latvia (1992–1996).