Photo by Gunārs Janaitis
The novelist Laima Muktupāvela was born in Rēzekne in 1962. She studied at the Riga Secondary School of Applied Art, and, in 1989, graduated with a degree in history from the University of Latvia. She has held many different jobs: hospital orderly, a model at the Latvian Academy of Art, an archivist, and a mushroom-sorter in Ireland. She published her first short story in 1993; some of her works have been written under the pseudonym Felikss Baranovskis. Muktupāvela achieved wide acclaim with her first novel, Šampinjonu Derība (The Mushroom Testament), which was published in 2002.
In the 1990s, Muktupāvela moved to the countryside to work as a farmer. She was employed at the weekly newspaper Lauku Avīze from 1995 to 2000 and the literary magazine Karogs from 2002 to 2003. She has compiled texts for the Web site www.kultura.lv and written a screenplay for the project “SIBīrija” (produced by Ansis Epners’s AVE studio), which focuses on Latvians living in Ireland. Muktupāvela is currently working on a biography of the conductors Imants and Gido Kokars, twin brothers who have been central figures in twentieth-century Latvian choral music.
Muktupāvela is the author of the novels Cilpa (Cilpa, 2003) and Mīla. Benjamiņa (Love. Benjamina, 2005) and the short-story collections Ducis (A Dozen, 2002) and Totēmi (Totems, 2007). Two of her plays, Kā daļa no visa (Being a Part of Everything, 1995) and Brīnumu nakts (The Night of Wonders, 2001), have been staged at Latvian theatres, and her dramatic work Cilvēks no dīķa (A Man From a Pond, 2002) was published in Karogs magazine. Muktupāvela was awarded the Annual Prize for Literature in 2002 and the Grand Prix at the Prose Readings Festival in 2005. Muktupāvela is a laureate of the Karogs and Raimonds Gerkens Award for her thriller The Loop (2003). In 2009, she received the Eduards Veidenbaums Award for Oh, Brother, Brother, a biography of the Kokars brothers, two famous Latvian choir conductors.