Giedra Radvilavičiūtė was born in 1960 in Panevėžys, Lithuania. After finishing secondary school in Panevėžys, she graduated from Vilnius University in 1983 with a degree in Lithuanian language and literature. After that, she worked for a few years as a school teacher in her native region of north Lithuania. From 1987 to 1994, she worked as a journalist in Vilnius, for family and parenting magazines, and from 1994 to 1998 she lived in the USA, where her husband Giedrius Subačius was teaching at Chicago University.
She now lives in Vilnius with her daughter (a student of design at Vilnius Academy of Arts), where she is working at a government institution as a language editor.
Šiąnakt aš miegosiu prie sienos (Tonight I Shall Sleep by the Wall)
These short stories, which can also be seen as semi-autobiographical essays, mostly deal with everyday occurrences, seemingly insignificant experiences and perceptions. Their sophisticated sensibilities reveal a rich existence, a deep sense of every quotidian moment. They are also very readable, devoid of any pomposity or exultation, often tinged with irony, dealing with such experiences as illness, physical fragility, loneliness, inability to pursue stable relationships, the burden of domestic chores, and so on.
“Writers are completely naked in their texts, even when they desire to conceal themselves under fantasies, such as the Middle Ages or the Renaissance, events from other lives, or the opposite sex,” says Giedra Radvilavičiūtė. Some of the stories deal with the situation of a middle-aged woman, living with her daughter in a small flat in the Old Town of Vilnius; they look deep into everyday events, but at the same time the exquisite literary quality of the text contributes to a rewarding reading experience.
One of the segments in this book, ‘The Allure of the Text’ (which was included in the Dalkey Archive Press anthology, Best European Fiction 2010), lays out five criteria for a good literary work, which the author then goes on to illustrate in the unfolding story. Another story, ‘Those Whom I Would Like to Meet Again: An Introduction’, is a narrative reflection on a very diverse set of characters.
Excerpt from the short story „Susipažinkite: tie, kuriuos sutikti norėčiau dar kartą“ (“Those Whom I Would Like to meet Again: An Introduction”)
from the book Šiąnakt aš gulėsiu prie sienos (Tonight I Shall Sleep by the Wall)
translated by Elizabeth Novickas
And when I returned one time from Poland, I carried a heavy bag down the platform. I don’t know why I still haven’t bought a suitcase with wheels. I have yet another fault—if someone makes me upset, or I should say, agitated, I remember what I was wearing at the time, even if twenty years may have gone by since. I was hauling the bag through the railroad station and suddenly felt the pack rising upwards. I turned around—on the platform, sleepy-eyed, stood that man for whom the world opened up in brighter pieces being with me. “You’re waiting for someone here?” I asked. “I am,” he said, looking into my eyes. I looked at him too, but I saw my beige stockings twisted around twice, my face bedraggled from two border crossings, the beret on my greasy hair, and the bandage on the heel of my right foot. And if the bag were to continue the story, the events on the platform continued thusly: “The man carried me to the car and threw me into an empty trunk. The woman lifted me out again. ‘Don’t be silly. It’s Christmas, look at how many people are waiting at the trolleybus stop, I’ll take you to Panevėžys.’ The man remained sitting on the front seat, flicking the dangling toy spider with his finger, while the woman headed for the bus station. Waiting in line for a ticket, she put me down on the muddied floor and fell on top—I expected my ribs, piled up out of books, boxes, cans, and shoes, to tear the sides. Only I knew that fifteen hours ago, on the other end of the tracks, a different man saw her off. They kissed on the platform. Apparently, she thought the fact that a different one unexpectedly met her on this end of the tracks was a sin.” I thought about how I would behave now. I probably would have traveled to hell with that person to whom the naked body, unrelated to the soul, appeared to be just one material of many—clay, asbestos, silk. Does anyone really know where the tracks begin? Where they end, or what’s waiting there?