The protagonist of Radio is an Estonian filmmaker heading home after a decade living in Paris. He is an oversensitive and narcissistic man, openly gay, though suffering from a somewhat shaky sense of self esteem stuck in an ongoing identity crisis: is he an Estonian or a Parisian at heart? Is he an urban dandy or rural hack? The story of an exile and a writer anatomizing a homeland he perhaps wishes to repudiate, Radio is the perfect introduction for English-language audiences to one of world literature’s great tricksters.
“Õnnepalu…goes further than Milan Kundera…(his work) not only laughs at the dogma of the Soviet era, but also shows, by means of penetrating images, the commercialized mediocrity and superficiality of the mechanisms of power, including ‘official’ culture” – World Literature Today
“Through its set-up, the novel shines in wisdom and intelligence. The narrator provides background on Estonia’s history and serves as the vessel for Õnnepalu’s criticism of Estonian society and government. The novel is full of descriptions of the Soviet government’s implementations and their painfully laughable results; all the while, images of Paris feel hollow and similarly ludicrous. The philosophical depth Õnnepalu achieves is astounding, reminiscent of the thought found in great literary classics and refreshing when compared to most novels published today.” – The Harvard Crimson
“Critics have valued Radio as a story of the construction of homosexual identity, which is more honest and straightforward, up to the spilling of sperm, than the few earlier books on homosexuality in Estonian literature. At the same time, the novel contains lovely melodrama and nostalgia for those times when radio was the only information medium for Estonian rural people. The author himself has also drawn attention to the ambiguity of radio as a sign of an era…The word radius – radiance surrounding the diva – also originates from the same stem. This word also marks the conflict between earthly and heavenly love” – Janika Kronberg, Estonian Literature Center