by Jana Egle

March 18, 2025
stories | pb | 200 pgs.
5.5" x 8.5"

“Laine looks at the attractive man sitting across from her and can’t decide: does she like his forwardness or not? But she’s been single for so long, maybe it’s worth trying again. Her husband left over ten years ago, and she hasn’t really dated since . . . If this one doesn’t work out either, then she’ll keep living like she has been—but if it does work out? Severīns notices her lingering stare, and his lips once again stretch out at the corners. It must really be his smile, then. She likes it better when he doesn’t smile.”

Eight stories, eight women, an emotional multitude. In her short-story collection, Birthday, Jana Egle distinctly straps the male presence into the back seat and lets the female voice ring free. Not to be taken as “a book for women” or “women's literature,” the themes and situations in Birthday present a familiar, yet uneasy, vantage point for any reader, regardless of personal, real-life experience. 

A design-firm employee who finds herself dating a potential sociopath, a woman suffering a terrible loss and having to find the strength to ask for help, the navigation of a mental health crisis, the fears of old age, revisitng a past love—Egle explores these universal themes, and more, with a scalding, narrative realism that leaves your skin crawling and your mind begging for more.

Translated from the Latvian by Uldis Balodis

About the Author:

Jana Egle (1963) is a poet and writer. Her collection of stories, Gaismā [Into the Light], won the 2017 Latvian Literature Award. Egle also sees songwriting as a great part of the literary tradition, and actively participates in the bard movement in Latvia. Her story “The Quarry” was published in the February 2018 online issue of Words Without Borders. Birthday is her fourth book.

About the Translator:

Uldis Balodis is a linguist, lecturer, and translator. He holds a PhD in linguistics and has a particular interest in endangered and lesser-spoken languages. His translations include Rūdolfs Blaumanis’s In the Shadows of Death (Paper + Ink, 2018) and Nakedness by Zigmunds Skujiņš (Vagabond Voices, 2019), and contributions to Trillium (Livonian Culture Center & International Society of Livonian Friends, 2018)— the first-ever poetry anthology in English and Livonian, an endangered Finnic language native to Latvia.

Praise for Jana Egle

"[Egle’s] observations are proof positive that, often, not even our imaginations can keep up with the shocking and unbelievable situations real life throws at us.”—