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Abstract

In the late phase of ‘developed socialism’, shortly before Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms of perestroika or reconstruction in the Soviet Union in 1985 had reached Latvian cultural establishment, a young generation of poets, writers, playwrights, journalists, musicians, cinema and theatre artists throughout the socialist bloc countries and the Soviet Union initiated new trends in culture. In Soviet Latvia, the new trends in prose fiction produced by young writers were labelled the ‘new wave’. Among them emerged a group of women writers called ‘angry young women’ who challenged the established canon of socialist realism by addressing new themes including the negative sides of Soviet reality and everyday life, silenced pages of Latvian history under the Soviet regime, issues of sexuality, etc., as well as introducing new poetic features in the prose narrative. The representatives of the ‘new wave’ produced short prose fiction works that were published in the monthly journal Avots and thus were circulated among broad readership, arousing quick reaction. Andra Neiburga (1957–2019) is one of the ‘angry young women’ who entered the scene of Latvian literature in 1985 with the publication of short stories in Avots and other press periodicals; her first collection of stories Izbāzti putni un putni būros (Stuffed Birds and Birds in Cages) was published in 1988. The present paper regards the narrative peculiarities of A. Neiburga’s early short stories in a gender perspective that reflects the specific ambiguous characteristics of the late Soviet epoch as a time anticipating change in discourse and expression. Along with other young generation writers of the late Soviet period, A. Neiburga distanced herself from the canon of socialist realism and executed what Alice Jardine termed gynesis by introducing a new voice that expressed indignation, frustration, uncertainty and inscribed a radically different vision of reality that saw the subversive potential of accepted structures and forms of expression.

Note on the Author

Dr. Sandra Meškova, author of 2 research monographs and more than 80 research publications, is currently working at Daugavpils University, Latvia, as an associate professor teaching courses of literary theory, the history of British and North American literature, comparative literature. Research on life writing, comparative literature, women’s studies.

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