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Mati Unt (1 January 1944 Linnamäe, Voore Parish (now Voore, Mustvee Parish), Jõgeva County, Estonia – 22 August 2005, Tallinn) was an Estonian writer, essayist and theatre director.

Mati Unt
Mati Unt 12.jpg
Born(1944-01-01)January 1, 1944
Voore Parish, Estonia
DiedAugust 22, 2005(2005-08-22) (aged 61)
Tallinn, Estonia
OccupationWriter, essayist, theatre director
Known forSügisball
Plaque honoring Mati Unt at his family home in Voore


His first novel, written at the age of 18 after having finished high school, was Hüvasti, kollane kass (Goodbye, Yellow Cat). He completed his education in literature, journalism and philology at the University of Tartu. After that, he served as Director of the Vanemuine Theater from 1966 to 1972, held the same position at the Youth Theater until 1991, and then at the Estonian Drama Theatre until 2003, when he became a freelance writer.

He joined the Estonian Writers' Union in 1966. In 1980, he was named an Honored Writer of the Estonian SSR and, that same year, became one of the signatories to the Letter of 40 intellectuals. In 2000, was awarded the Order of the White Star

In 2005, not long before his death, he became a Professor of liberal arts at the University. He is buried in the Metsakalmistu cemetery in Tallinn.


Four successive novels, The Moon Like the Outgoing Sun, The Debt (1964), On the Possibility of life in space, and The Black Motorcyclist established his reputation as a major writer. In addition, he was instrumental in bringing avantgarde theatre to post-Soviet Union Estonia.

Several of his novels have been adapted for film since his death, including Sügisball ("Autumn Ball") in 2007 by Veiko Õunpuu.

Three of his postmodern novels are now available in English translation: "Things in the Night" (2007) and "Brecht at Night" (2009) both translated by Eric Dickens, and "Diary of a Blood Donor" (2008) translated by Ants Eert. All were published by The Dalkey Archive Press in Illinois. A novella, An Empty Beach, was included in The Dedalus Book of Estonian Literature (2011), published by Dedalus Books, Sawtry, England.

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