Photo of Tõnis Tootsen

Tõnis Tootsen (born in Estonia in 1988) is a freelance writer who has primarily focused on translating, editing, design, and sound- and video editing. He has studied semiotics at Tartu University. Tootsen has published a collection of short stories, Nukumeister (The Puppet Master, 2012), and a monumental hand-written and illustrated novel, Esimene Päev (The First Day, 2016), the latter of which won the Cultural Endowment of Estonia’s Award for Literature in the free category. Tootsen has also recently written and illustrated a poetry collection titled Uttu (Into the Fog, 2021). He currently lives in the forest in South Estonia. 

© Picture Jaan Tootsen 

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Ahvide pasteet. Ühe ahvi mälestusi ja mõtteid (Pâté of the Apes: One Primate’s Thoughts and Memories)

Pâté of the Apes: One Primate’s Thoughts and Memories is, as far as anyone knows, the first book written by a monkey. Ergo, who has been exiled to solitude on the Isle of the Dead, pens his memoir. Acquiring literacy takes him to the very brink of humanity. He has the opportunity to live as a person, though nothing good comes of it. The absurdity of humankind is instead highlighted in exceptionally rich and luxurious detail.  Observing the world through simian eyes allows us to step back and form striking generalizations. Both the ape’s autobiographical experiences and the period during which Estonia was freed of Soviet occupation and endeavored to restore its status as a free European state are viewed through a funhouse mirror. Human modes of behavior and societal hierarchies, which can easily be upended in the shifting winds of politics, are put under a microscope. “Red” and “blue” apes clash in the story – unintentional but foretelling in light of the present war in Ukraine.  The book explores marginalization and colonization through satire like in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, and the occasional over-the-top humor. Obviously, the title contains a direct reference to Planet of the Apes. Pâté of the Apes can similarly be read as a critique of anthropocentrism and a strong blow to the idea that humankind is evolution’s crown jewel.​ 

Photo of the cover of the book "Ahvide pasteet. Ühe ahvi mälestusi ja mõtteid"

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