Artist Residencies 2023 Grant winner – Maria Esko


We invite you to meet our current resident – Maria Esko from Estonia. Maria won the scholarship of the “Artist Residencies” project and will reside at the International Center for Translators and Writers in Nida for two months.

Maria Esko is a literary translator specialising in French contemporary prose and its outstanding female voices, such as Annie Saumont, Virginie Despentes and Alice Zeniter. From an early age, Maria has been interested in non-standard languages. During her studies at Tallinn University (Romance Languages MA 2015), this interest became a passion for cataloguing idiolects and transposing them from one language into another.

In addition to translating French literature and working as a publisher, Maria has been actively participating in the Estonian and Baltic literary scenes, with an aim to introduce and promote literary translation as a profession, and to encourage international literary exchange. She interviews Estonian and foreign authors, writes book reviews and articles for Estonian cultural media. Also Maria coordinates the Estonian Writers’ Union’s cooperation with Latvian and Lithuanian Writers’ Unions (e.g. No More Amber – The Baltic Literary Review), and the Union’s Translators’ Section’s program for young translators.

During her residency in the International Centre for Translators and Writers Maria is planing to focus mainly on translating. Her main goal is to finish the first draft of “Jusque dans nos bras” by Alice Zeniter. Alice Zeniter is a remarkably powerful young female voice in the French literary scene. Having been awarded with several prizes, she keeps refining her voice and focusing on socially crucial issues.”Jusque dans nos bras” addresses the latent xenophobia and racism against people who are French in every single way except for their names. Zeniter uses her colourful language and unique narrative style as tools to incite open discussion as well as honest insight.

The second Maria’s project for residency is to translating “Cher connard” by Virginie Despentes. Virginie Despentes is often considered to be the most important contemporary feminist writer in France. Her passionate and often shocking way of casting a ruthless light onto the darkest corners of modern capitalist society has quickly earned her massive attention and readership all over the world. “Cher connard” is her newest novel, published in 2022, addressing issues like alienation during the pandemic, both sides of #MeToo, and the effect of social media on interpersonal relationships – all that with brutal honesty and a fantastic sense of humor, which both fascinates Maria.

As Maria says – translating needs a calm, yet inspiring environment – exactly like Nida. So we hope this residency will be productive and an inspiration for new ideas.


The “Artist Residencies” project is financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

#Resident’s Notes 3 – Maria Esko

#Resident’s Notes 3 – Maria Esko

On the closing day of Druskininkai Poetic Fall 2019, an odd bunch of Baltic literary activists found themselves in a drowsy conference room, trying to come up with a great idea. Even though it was way too early for epiphanies, we did. We decided to publish a literary...

#Resident’s Notes 3 – Maarja Pärtna

#Resident’s Notes 3 – Maarja Pärtna

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