Mudlum (Made Luiga), born on 31 July 1966, is an Estonian prose writer and a literary reviewer. She studied philosophy at the Estonian Humanitarian Institute (Eesti Humanitaarinstituut) and graduated from the Estonian Academy of Arts (Eesti Kunstiakadeemia), which provides higher education in art, design, architecture, the media, art history and conservation/restoration. In addition to Polish Boys, she has written two collections of short stories and a novel: Tõsine inimene (A Serious Person), ZA/UM, Tallinn, 2014; Ilus Elviira: burleskne jutustus (Beautiful Elviira: A Burlesque Story), Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, Tallinn, 2015; and Linnu silmad (Bird Eyes), Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, Tallinn, 2016. The Estonian Head Read Literary Festival says of Mudlum: ‘Her first short stories published in the media took no time to attract attention; her debut, the collection of stories Tõsine inimene … was nominated for the prose award of the Estonian Cultural Endowment. Mudlum has said that instead of seeing the world as a story, she considers it a journey. This is the peculiarity of her work, her focus on past, almost dream-like musings where mundane moods and details stand out, as well as her preference for states of mind over plotlines. This is how a unique world is created, described by Ilona Martson as a “chaos with a clear composition”.’ Mudlum is a well-known literary critic; her reviews and essays have been anthologised as Ümberjutustaja (Reteller, 2017). She has also contributed to the increasing popularity of Estonian short stories, being one of the four editors of the collection Eesti novell 2018 (Estonian Short Stories). In 2017, she won the leading award for Estonian short stories, the Friedebert Tuglas Award, for her short story Ilma alguse, ilma lõputa (Without a Beginning, Without an End), which was first published in her third book Linnu silmad. In 2020, Polish Boys won Mudlum the annual award of the Estonian Cultural Endowment.
Polish Boys is a story of young bohemian-intellectuals who have settled in old dilapidated buildings and who follow their ideals. The novel is located in socialist Poland but space and time are irrelevant and can be seen as an allegory. Polish Boys is about the confidence of youth and about aspirations for beauty and truth, how high expectations meet reality, how some people bend and deviate and some don’t. Adam, Sulisław, Teofilis and Jerzy grow up together and become influential figures in Warsaw’s art and literary circles. They set up the radical cultural newspaper Płaszcze and try to transform the society surrounding them. Their radicalism is challenged and not least by the convenient choices offered by the establishment. The same choices are present in their private lives: the unpredictability of free love or the security of a family. Polish Boys is a bildungsroman for the whole generation inspired by the cultural group ZA/UM in Estonia. The author, who was a member of the group, writes from her personal experience with warmth and compassion, which makes the novel’s tonality both universal and human.