Kai Aareleid’s lyrical novel is set in the southern Estonian city of Tartu. Destroyed during the war by the German and Soviet armies then slowly rebuilt, the city is home to many secrets, and little Tiina knows them all – even if she does not quite understand their import. The adult world is one of cryptic conversations and unspoken dread. From the death of Stalin to the inexorable collapse of her parents’ marriage, Tiina experiences both domestic and great events from the periphery, ultimately finding herself powerless to prevent the defining tragedy in her own life.

The painful turmoil of the era is exposed through impressionistic reflections and sensations… Burning Cities is like a family photo album reflected in the content and construction of the text.

A wonderful novel about people well versed in complicating their own lives.”

Kai Aareleid was chosen as Estonian Writer of the Year in 2016. Born in 1972, she is a prolific writer of short fiction and is also a translator from Spanish, Portuguese, Finnish and English into Estonian.

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