The writer Ülo Tuulik is the older twin brother of the writer and playwright Jüri Tuulik (1940–2014), and they were born as sons of a schoolteacher of a little fishing village on Abruka, a tiny Estonian island, of 8.78 km². Forced to leave in the end of the war to Germany, the family came back in 1945. Both brothers studied the Estonian philology at the University of Tartu. Ülo Tuulik lives now in Tallinn, but has said himself that the home island is the anchor of his ship.
Ülo Tuulik debuted in 1965 with a travel diary, titled Aafrika kuum meri (Africa’s Hot Sea), kept on a fishing vessel on the Atlantic Ocean. He opened the horizon of the hot southern seas to the reader, travelling a lot over the oceans on fishing and exploring ships, often writing: literary reviews, collections of short stories like Vihm Gibraltaris (Rain in Gibraltar, 1972). His travel essay Kõrge taevas (High Sky, 1985) consists of different pieces – of visits to several places, like Thomas Mann`s Lübeck, or Tbilisi, or Las Palmas, and a longer story of a longer visit to tortured Cambodia in the nineteen-eighties. He has a keen eye in portraying people, and has written a whole, humorous series of peculiarly and accidentally meeting somewhere someone famous. His essays are captivating and expressive, often with pleasantly humorous undertone. He has worked in the staff of several newspapers and magazines, in the Estonian Writers´ Union, and written about current public affairs. He was honoured with the Estonian annual literary award in 1975 and in 1985 and the Friedebert Tuglas Short Story Award in 2006. Both Ülo and Jüri Tuulik received the title of National Writer in 1986.
According to Tuulik, to be against the war is one of the main tasks of literature over the times, and his only novel, at the same time probably his most important work, is a modernist anti-war novel Sõja jalus(Trampled by War, 1974), a monumental book springing partly from his own childhood experience, the deportation of the three thousand habitants from Southern Saaremaa in autumn 1944 to Germany, where many of them, especially the children, found their last home – nulla crux, nulla corona. The forced evacuation on ship that were bombed, the war time Germany, the end of the war and the long journey back, much of it on foot, is depicted in an unusual form, as thoughts and details of memories mixed up with the present. It was a long journey full of suffering, hunger and fear for a little boy, and the grown-up man wrote it for years, collecting the memories of his fellow companions, diaries, memoirs, and documents, the shadows of the war. Those, who made it back, saw often the land ravaged by the armies of the war instead of their home villages. Part of the book is about the Red Army`s miserable, unsuccessful landing of Vintri after the Battle of Tehumardi. Tuulik is said to have been there Camus-like, investigating the mechanisms of violence and war, the war story universalizes and like an Eastern Europe Vonnegut, his book was revolutionary in its time, although was published then after censoring and appeared in full-scale in 2010, for example equalling the two armies and their soldiers. It is one of the most important books of the Estonian literature of the nineteen-seventies.