Pâté of the Apes by Tõnis Tootsen (b. 1988) is the story of Ergo, the first ape who has learned to write. As the title suggests, the story takes its clues from the highly acclaimed Planet of the Apes, which might suggest something of a pastiche, but the book is very much a beast of its own.

Pâté of the Apes might be considered both a sequel and a parody, part science fiction, part social satire, and part philosophical allegory. Told through the eyes of Ergo, and annotated by the scholars who study his legacy, Pâté of the Apes describes a future society where a great war has taken place between humans and various factions of apes. While a fragile peace has finally been achieved, suspicion looms large between the species. Despite the lofty themes and dystopian setting, this fictional autobiography can be read as an unpretentious coming-of-age story. Ergo reminisces back and forth in his memories, being raised in a family of apes that reveres everything human, getting through a relentless education system, and finding his way in a labyrinth of customs, traditions, myths, half-truths, and full-time-deceptions. While fantastical in parts, the book mostly holds up an absurdist and all-too-familiar mirror to the rituals, quirks, and divisions sewn through the territories of the former Soviet Union as well as the modern world in general.

For author Tõnis Tootsen, working here with various autobiographical details, this is a follow-up to the highly ambitious First Day (2016), a dreamlike journey through post-apocalyptic Estonia that garnered attention for being written entirely by hand. Tootsen has also released Puppet Master (2012), a collection of short stories, as well as Uttu (2021), a uniquely illustrated book of poetry.

Born and raised in Tallinn, but now living in rural Southern Estonia, Tootsen’s writings often revolve around dreams, psychedelics, dystopian landscapes, the conflicts between nature and civilization, personal freedom, and societal norms. Having been influenced by the works of Andrus Kivirähk and Kurt Vonnegut among others during his formative years as a writer, Pâté of the Apes marks a return to a more humorous style for him. Tootsen is also a freelance translator, editor, designer, and musician.

Andrei Liimets (b. 1989) works as the head of the Estonian Victim Support at the Social Insurance Board. He is also a freelance culture critic and civic activist.