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The Emma Press


The Secret Box: a trio of short stories

The Secret Box: a trio of short stories


The Secret Box is a collection of three short stories by Daina Tabūna, translated from Latvian by Jayde Will. With illustrations by Mark Andrew Webber.

“When I started going to school, I prayed: ‘I promise to always study hard, God, and please make it so we don’t have to go to Baba’s place anymore.’ This was after another boring visit featuring rock-hard little spice cakes. Among other things, Baba had started fighting with my parents yet again. ‘You want to drive me into the grave! One day you’ll drive me into the grave!’ she slurred, upset. I didn’t understand what the argument was about, and nor did it interest me – all I wanted was for it to be over. Deals with God, which Baba had started me on, were turning against her.”

Page count: 104 / Stories: 3 / Illustrations: 6

Publication date: 5th October 2017

Paperback ISBN: 9781910139905

GTIN: N/A SKU: 9781910139905 Categories: , , , , Tag:

Daina Tabūna

Daina Tabūna (1985) is a prose writer. Her short story collection "Pirmā reize" ("The first time") was nominated for the Annual Latvian Literary Award 2014 as the best debut of the year. "Pirmā reize" immediately won over many readers and critics and has become a cult book of its time in Latvia. Daina’s professional experience includes writing for a television soap opera, running a photography club for 10-year-old Bulgarians, managing public relations for a closed museum, and extended periods of unemployment. She is passionate about hiking and being silly.


On the cusp of womanhood, Daina Tabūna’s heroines are constantly confronted with the unexpected. Adult life seems just around the corner, but so are the kinds of surprise encounter which might change everything.

Two siblings realise they’re too old to be playing with paper dolls and begin to re-examine their close relationship. A girl who dreads visiting her religious grandmother develops her own fixation with Jesus. And a disaffected young woman, listlessly wandering the streets, stumbles into an awkward relationship with an office worker. The narrators of these three stories each try, in their own way, to make sense of how to behave in a world that doesn’t give any clear answers.

The Secret Box features three stories from Pirmā reize (Mansards, 2014): ‘Deals with God’ (‘Darījumi ar Dievu’), ‘The Secret Box’ (‘Slepenā kaste’) and ‘The Spleen, My Favourite Organ’ (‘Liesa, mans mīļākais organs’).

‘The Secret Box is an engaging, thoughtful and disarmingly varied selection of stories that deal with important topics… A thoroughly enjoyable read offering real insights into the many ways that the lives of ordinary people are affected by huge political turmoil.’ – Sabotage Reviews

This publication is supported by Latvian Writers’ Union (Latvijas Rakstnieku Savienība) and Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia.

About the translator

Jayde Will (1978) is a literary translator. He has an M.A. in Fenno-Ugric Linguistics from Tartu University. His translations of Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonian authors have been published in numerous journals, including The Poetry Review, Trafika and Mantis, as well as anthologies such as the Dedalus Book of Lithuanian Literature and several Best European Fiction anthologies. He has also translated subtitles for numerous films, including the Lithuanian classic The Devil’s Bride and the award-winning Vanishing Waves.

About the illustrator

Artist-printmaker Mark Andrew Webber (1984) specialises in painstakingly-researched typographic and geometric projects, including his ‘Where in the World’ series of enormous city maps and ‘FORM’, a six-part study of line and form. Find out more about him here.

Additional information

Dimensions 12.9 × 19.8 cm

Print, eBook

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