If life had called on Vello Vikerkaar to be an executioner rather than the writer that he is, one could imagine him whispering funny observations from behind his hood into the ear of the condemned even as they mount the gallows: "Do you see that mole on the nose of that otherwise pretty girl who is here to watch you swing? What a shame about that, don't you think? Oh well, put your head in the noose. Nothing else to do." Because what pervades Vikerkaar's collection of essays Inherit the Family: Marrying into Eastern Europe<i/> -- a Dave Barry meets Art Buchwald chatty hatchet job on the author's adopted Estonia -- is black humor. That Vikerkaar's collection exudes excellence of the highest order is never in dispute, indeed if the author had settled himself someplace less provincial, say China for example, we would easily be reading these essays in The New Yorker. But Estonia is not China, as the author knows and is happy to point out repeatedly, Estonia is one of those newly "Western" nations that define our idea of a "backwater," the Togo or Suriname of Europe, a place so small and so politically inconsequential and surrounded by similar countries so small and inconsequential, that even State Department officials are hard pressed to properly locate it on a map. And in a sense, that's the point of Vikerkaar's collection, a wry and running commentary that continuously tells us, "Look at this ridiculous place that I live, look at all its foibles." But what Vikerkaar also cannot help from saying, between the lines, and sometimes even in them, is, "How I love this place." --New Yorker writer and novelist Tony D'Souza reviews Vello's book in Peace Corps Worldwide<i/>, Jan. 19, 2010
About the Author
Vello Vikerkaar was born in Scarberia (sometimes called Scarborough), Canada, in 1965. He now lives in Tallinn, Estonia. He has been called the ”David Sedaris of Estonia,” though he admits Sedaris may be somewhat better looking.