by Jaan Kross
Treading Air follows the life of Ullo Paerand through 30 years of violent political upheaval. Abandoned by his father as a child, he grows up to become an electoral assistant to the parliamentary office in Tallinn and it is in this position that Ullo witnesses first the Soviet and then the German occupation of Estonia. Forced out of his honest profession Ullo becomes involved with the Resistance but, when many Estonians flee the country, he chooses to remain. An interlude of a decade shows much has changed since the end of the War; Soviet influence is marked in the style of government and the manner of the people. The narrative unfolds in stories imparted to an unknown 'author' by a 70-year-old Ullo. Just before the end, however, Kross introduces a teasing ambiguity: Ullo dies before he is able to answer the last question about his life.