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Laureate’s profile: Hendrik Lindepuu

Hendrik Lindepuu (b. 11 XI 1958), this year's winner of the Transatlantyk Award, is one of the most outstanding translators, acquainting foreign readers with Polish literature. His translations of more than 50 books have been published in Estonia, and he has also translated 70 theatrical plays. Lindepuu is a true one-man-institution. It is largely thanks to him that contemporary Polish literature is present in Estonia, as not only does he translate it, but he has also been publishing it in the publishing house Hendrik Lindepu Kirjastus since 2003.

Lindepuu translated into Estonian such eminent authors as Witold Gombrowicz, Zbigniew Herbert, Czesław Miłosz, Sławomir Mrożek, Zofia Nałkowska, Bruno Schulz, and Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz. His output also includes translations from contemporary prose and reportage - he translated works by Bronka Nowicka, Olga Tokarczuk, Małgorzata Rejmer, Witold Szabłowski, and Marcin Świetlicki, to name a few.

He began his translation career by translating theatrical plays. It was his interest in Polish theatre and film that led him to buy a textbook to learn the Polish language in the spring of 1984. Already three years later, he spoke Polish fluently enough to start translating - in March 1988, the Estonian premiere of Ireneusz Iredyński's play Żegaj, Judaszu (“Farewell Judas”), translated by Lindepuu, took place.

Since Estonian publishers rarely publish Polish literature, Hendrik Lindepuu founded his own one-man publishing house in 2002 in order to publish translations of Polish literature into Estonian. So far, 42 books have been published. Translations of Polish literature into Estonian, published by Hendrik Lindepuu, are reviewed in all major Estonian media.

His translations of poetry are the most appreciated. In 2009, the Estonian Cultural Foundation awarded Hendrik Lindepuu the annual Kultuurkapital Literary Award, the highest literary prize in Estonia, for Wiersze wybrane (“Selected Poems”) by Tadeusz Różewicz and other translations.

In 2015, he was one of the five laureates of the Estonian National Award for Culture and Art for creative achievements in 2014. The Republic of Poland awarded Hendrik Lindepuu for his merits Złoty Krzyż Zasługi (“Golden Cross of Merit”, 2005) and Krzyż Kawalerski Orderu Zasługi (“Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit”, 2009).