The concrete high-rise district of Lasnamäe in Tallinn has never been Estonians’ idea of a dream home. It tends to be perceived as a hostile foreign territory.
Viktoria Ladõnskaja is a Lasnamäe girl through and through. In writing this book, she sought answers to some frequently recurring questions: Why did the Russians come here? Why haven’t they left? How are they getting on with learning Estonian? In what way do they demonstrate their loyalty to Estonia?
In her childhood during the 80s, dangerous games were played in Lasnamäe in the yards, on unfinished construction sites and wastelands. Mothers worried and admonished their children to be careful. Fear was deeply ingrained in the residents of Lasnamäe. Fear of being robbed, fear of coming upon a group of the other nationality, fear of becoming stateless.
The author describes the Lasnamäe of her childhood and youth incisively and with empathy. Here there is a seaman from Vladivostok who lands up in Estonia and becomes a sexton, a female Estonian artist who communicates with her neighbours through closed iron doors, a teenage girl who, in a fit of rage, snaps at her parents, “I hate you because you’re Russian!”, and the street kid who finds salvation in the Russian Theatre of Estonia. The subject of Orthodox Christianity is ever present in the book and is seen in an Estonian context.