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The Past in the Present: Writing from Georgia

September 2018

september-2018-the-past-in-the-present-writing-from-georgia-alex-berdysheff-consonance
Image: Alex Berdysheff, “Consonance” (cropped), oil on canvas, 110 X 120 cm, 2013. By arrangement with the artist.

Image: Alex Berdysheff, “Consonance” (cropped), oil on canvas, 110 X 120 cm, 2013. By arrangement with the artist.


This month we bring you literature from Georgia. Contemporary Georgian literature is informed by the country’s tumultuous past, and the writers here demonstrate how fiction, poetry, and memoir both reflect and shape a national culture. In warfare private and public, Teona Dolenjashvili’s childless couple find themselves in an unexpected custody battle, and former war correspondent Beka Kurkhuli sends a political activist into a bloody conflict. Career civil servant Gela Charkviani is diplomatic in his memories of advising Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze. The great Naira Gelashvili eavesdrops on a star-struck couple straight out of a nineteenth-century romance. And in poetry, Lela Samniashvili finds the past always present, and Irakli Kakabadze comforts the survivors of the horrific Beslan School siege. Guest editor Gvantsa Jobava’s insightful introduction describes the historical, political, and cultural backdrop against which these diverse authors are writing.

Exporting Georgian Literature
By Gvantsa Jobava
Georgian writers have always had a powerful influence on the nation’s consciousness, and this is as true now as it was in the past.
Translated from Georgian by Philip Price
Meskhi vs. Meskhi
By Teona Dolenjashvili
He has never looked less like a potential father.
Translated from Georgian by Philip Price
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Military Drills
By Lela Samniashvili
Who can escape his own charisma
Translated from Georgian by Mac Dunlop & Natalia Bukia-Peters
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A Run in My Stocking
By Lela Samniashvili
I know there is the curse of god and the curse of being human
Translated from Georgian by Mac Dunlop & Natalia Bukia-Peters
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Shevardnadze and Me: The Beginning
By Gela Charkviani
All I had to do was wait for the right circumstances.
Translated from Georgian by Philip Price
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The Children of Beslan (To My Children)
By Irakli Kakabadze
We left toys with wilted smiles on the beds
Translated from Georgian by Mary Childs
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Seventeen Poems by Iaki Kabe
By Irakli Kakabadze
It had rained, / The lilacs were rejoicing.
Translated from Georgian by Mary Childs
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Little Dipper
By Naira Gelashvili
“I’ve been dreaming about this all my life, to kiss the Little Dipper.”
Translated from Georgian by Mary Childs
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The Killer
By Beka Kurkhuli
He swam through the thick white sea and he could no longer feel his heart.
Translated from Georgian by Natalia Bukia-Peters & Victoria Field
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