Censored in Latvia until 2003Translated by Jayde Will. Originally written in 1967 and not released in its uncensored form until 2003, Bels' infamous novel, Insomnia (translated from the Latvian, Bezmiegs) concerns the taboo subject of the Latvian Legion, and the atmosphere of inertia and paralysis in Soviet-era Latvia. The story is told through the thoughts and emotions of the main character, portrayed as an outwardly apathetic man and typical of Bels' characters in the 1960s and 1970s - a period marked by powerless and stagnation amongst ordinary people.
The protagonist lives by a principle of non-involvement, content with the small material advantages of a mediocre existence-an old car, a small room in a communal apartment, a television set.
The paralysis of spirit is most apparent in the depiction of the everyday minutiae as well as in the nighttime monologues of the building's other inhabitants.
He feels free only at night, in his room, when his work no longer dominates his thinking, when the surrounding sounds of the apartment house have died down, and when he is able to escape the oppressive presences of things and of people that hang over him during the day. Insomnia is part of the Parthian Baltic project which was launched on time for the London Book Fair 2018.
The poetry collections were launched at the Wheatsheaf Parthian Poetry Festival in April 2018.
- Format: Paperback / softback
- Pages: 198 pages
- Publisher: Parthian Books
- Publication Date: 01/01/2020
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9781912109425