German Authors in the Spotlight at Tbilisi’s 3rd Literary Festival

From May 29 to June 2, Goethe Institute, the third Tbilisi International Literary Festival and Georgian National Book Center are jointly implementing the project “Prospects – Talks about Literature.” The project is also supported by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The festival opening, as well as the majority of the events, took place at the Writers’ House and the Goethe Institute. Other venues included the Royal District Theater and the Literary Museum.

As this year marks the 200th anniversary since the first German immigrants came to Georgia, as well as the 25th year of restoring diplomatic relations between the two countries and the fact that next year will be the 100th anniversary of German acknowledgement of the first independent Georgian state, a record number of German authors attended the festival.

The festival is supported by the Georgian Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection, together with Tbilisi City Hall and almost all major educational institutions in the city. Mikheil Giorgadze, the Minister of Culture and Monument Protection, addressed the audience. “Within the past years, the number of literary projects and events has increased. Three years ago, our ministry backed the initiative of the Writers’ House [to found a literary festival]. This is already a tradition for which ceaselessness is paramount, as year after year, the authority, scale and consequently, the interest towards it is rising,” he said.

We talked to Nino Kharatishvili, a Georgian-German writer and director and the the author and curator of the project at the start of the festival, which coincided with the start of the German program. “The German program I am in charge of, composed of a lot of events, soirees and panel discussions. The discussion “Europe as an idea” focuses on the pros and cons of the present Europe, whilst the second discussion “Angry White Man” focuses on the role of men in the Georgian and German societies”.

The project does not restrict itself to the comprehensive program of the festival alone as six German and six Georgian authors will work in pairs and visit different corners of Georgia with the purpose of learning about the country. As a result of these joint residencies, as well as new acquaintances and exchange of impulses, the participant authors of the project will work on texts. The materials will be published by a German publishing house in the form of a book, which will be presented at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The joint presentations of these authors are also on the agenda at German literary festivals and other programs. This important project serves to develop active collaboration among Georgian and German writers. In 2018, Georgia will be an honorary guest at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

The project “Prospects – Talks about Literature” was opened with a meeting with famous German writer Katja Lange-Muller. She was born in 1951, in East Germany. During her childhood, she was dismissed from school for “antisocial behavior.” After leaving school she learned to be a typesetter and worked for four years at the East Berlin newspaper Berliner Zeitung, followed by six years of care-work in women’s psychiatric wards in Berlin. She then was accepted to the Johannes R. Becher Literature Institute in Leipzig and continued her studies in the Mongolian People’s Republic.

Katja Lange-Müller published her first book in 1986. Since then she has published numerous novels, short stories and radio plays. She has won major German literary awards, including the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize, the Alfred Döblin Prize, and the Kasseler Literature Prize (for grotesque humour). In 2016 she was a visiting lecturer for poetics at Goethe University Frankfurt.

Nata Lomouri, Director of the Writers’ House, told GEORGIA TODAY: “Participants are very interesting, as they differ in temperaments and information about Georgia. Our courtyard is a nice place for them to talk to each other. Some of them had already met at other literary festivals, however, many have just got acquainted. I see that the Georgian reader is very active, full of expectations, as they are not very indulged with frequent visits of foreign writers. Therefore, here they meet in person, among whom there are Georgian translators as well as active readers. I hope that the writers will leave Georgia with most positive impressions, as they are the best ‘ambassadors’ of Georgia.”

This year the literary festival hosts 23 authors from 18 countries. For the first time, writers from Bangladesh and Libya arrived. However, German authors are in the spotlight. One more day is ahead:

Program: June 2 – two events

• Venue: Goethe Institute, Zandukeli 16 (Up from Rustaveli Subway)

• Time: 6 pm

• Topic: panel-discussion “Angry White Man”

• Participants: Katja Petrowskaya, Tamar Tandashvili, Lasha Bughadze, Nino Kharatishvili, Clemens Meyer, Katja Lange-Muller, Olga Gryaznova

• Moderator: Zaal Andronikashvili

• Language: German/Georgian

• Venue: Goethe Institute, Zandukeli 16 (Up from Rustaveli Subway)

• Time: 7.30 pm.

• Moderator: Irina Beridze

• Language: German/Georgian

Attendance is free.

Maka Lomadze

01 June 2017 18:19