It is a uniquely built book, where three perspectives intersect in unusual ways. The author Yelena Skulskaya first discusses her post-war childhood, complicated and even painful family relations, school years, and her youth. She shows what the University of Tartu was like in the Soviet era, draws an unexpected portrait of world famous semiotics professor Jury Lotman, and reminisces about her friendships with authors Juhan Viiding, Sergey Dovlatov, and many others. The second perspective is fictional surreal short stories that are based on real events. These stories discuss how the facts of life can transform into art and how an author is born. The third perspective is an overview of the great works of literature that have influenced Skulskaya, that have shaped her taste in art, and that have become a part of her life.
All three aspects melt into one singular portrait of a person set against a backdrop of different eras.
Marble Swan was shortlisted for the Russian Booker Prize and received literary awards from Saint Peterburg’s magazine Zvezda and the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.