From the Blue Horn Poets to the Red Century: Nino Haratischvili in conversation with Maya Jaggi

Nino Haratischvili and Maya Jaggi

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Festival launch featuring Katie Melua, followed by a conversation with the author of the international best-selling novel The Eighth Life (for Brilka).

This is an online event. Bookers will be sent a link in advance giving access and will be able to watch at any time for 48 hours after the start time.

Bookers will also receive a link to view Liberty’s Feast and Hangover: with Aka Morchiladze and Dato Turashvili

The event begins with a welcome song in Georgian by the British-Georgian singer-songwriter Katie Melua, specially recorded in lockdown to launch the Georgia’s Fantastic Tavern festival.

Nino Haratischvili’s epic novel The Eighth Life (for Brilka) won multiple awards include the Bertolt Brecht Prize and the 2020 Warwick Prize for Women in Translation. Originally written in German, the English translation is now out in paperback

It traces six generations of a family from Georgia, a subjugated republic on the balcony of Europe and the fringes of the Russian and Soviet empires. Spanning the ‘red century’ that began in 1917, the saga moves from Tbilisi’s cafe society in the first republic to St Petersburg to London and to Berlin, as the mainly women protagonists’ lives are vividly enmeshed with world events, from the October Revolution and siege of Leningrad to the Prague Spring and post-Soviet civil wars.

Characters range from the Georgian Stalin’s notorious henchman Lavrenti Beria (also Georgian), Viennese-inspired master chocolatiers and aspiring dancers, to a White Guard turned red lieutenant and a dissident singer-songwriter exiled in Britain.

Hailed as a Georgian War and Peace or Tin Drum, The Eighth Life probes the historical silences left by Soviet propaganda, the trauma of totalitarianism and its aftermath, and the seductions of collaboration, in a country seemingly trapped in the repetitions of history.

In association with Maya Jaggi and Writers’ House of Georgia. Part of Georgia’s Fantastic Tavern: Where Europe Meets Asia (25-28 February 2021), an online festival of Georgian writers from the Caucasus, with food and song, inspired by the café culture of the first democratic republic of 1918-21.

For further information visit

Learn more about the British Library’s Georgian collections in this blog article written by curator Anna Chelidze.

Nino Haratischvili was born in Georgia in 1983, and moved to Germany in 2003. An award-winning novelist, playwright and theatre director, she lives in Berlin, and has written in both German and Georgian since the age of 12. Her debut novel Juja (2010) was nominated for the German Book Prize, as was Die Katze und der General in 2018. The Eighth Life (for Brilka), a novel of more than 900 pages, was published in 2014, and became a bestseller in German, Polish, Dutch and Georgian. Its acclaimed English translation by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin, published by Scribe in 2019 and recently out in paperback, won the 2020 Warwick Prize for Women in Translation. It was praised in the Guardian as ‘momentous …harrowing, heartening and utterly engrossing’, and in the FT as a ‘true supra of a novel – a lavish banquet of family stories that can, for all their sorrows, be devoured with gluttonous delight.’

Maya Jaggi is Artistic Director of Georgia’s Fantastic Tavern: Where Europe Meets Asia and Critic at Large for Words Without Borders in New York. A former staff journalist on the Guardian’s international news desk, she was a profile writer and fiction critic for the Guardian Review in 1999–2015. She has reported on culture from five continents, and her writing has appeared widely, including in Financial Times, The Economist, The New York Times and New York Review of Books. Educated at Oxford University and LSE, she was a DAAD Art and Media fellow in Berlin, and has given masterclasses in cultural journalism as an EU Senior Expert in post-Soviet capitals including Tbilisi. Among her awards is an honorary doctorate from the Open University for ‘extending the map of international writing.’ Georgia’s Fantastic Tavern is a pandemic-era sequel to Where Europe Meets Asia: Georgia 25, the UK’s first festival of contemporary Georgian writers and film which she directed in 2016 – and which was described by leading Georgian novelist Aka Morchiladze as ‘memorably filled with curiosity and benevolence … the first close contact of Georgian literature with Britain, where it is almost unknown.’

Katie Melua, an accomplished singer, songwriter, composer and arranger, is one of Britain’s most successful musical artists, having sold in excess of 11 million albums and received more than 56 platinum awards. The daughter of a heart surgeon, she was born in Georgia’s second-largest city, Kutaisi, then in Soviet Georgia, in 1984, and spent her early years with her grandparents in the capital, Tbilisi. She moved to the UK with her parents when she was eight, first to Northern Ireland then England, where she studied at the BRIT School of Performing Arts. One of the UK’s highest-selling female recording artists of all time, Katie has released eight consecutive top 10 studio albums: Call Off The Search, Piece By Piece, Pictures, The House, Secret Symphony, Ketevan, In Winter, and Album No. 8. Some of her best-known hits include Nine Million Bicycles, The Closest Thing to Crazy, and her now celebrated cover of Wonderful Life. In Winter (2019), her 2xCD live album, featured the Gori Women’s Choir, and she has regularly returned to Georgia, most recently recording some of Album No. 8 (2020) in Tbilisi. She lately told the Belfast Telegraph: “My grandad is a chef, and when I was a child he’d have huge feasts – even in the Nineties, when the electricity was off and hot water and gas were hard to come by. I remember the tables overrun with food, and the wine-drinking ceremony in which there are lots of toasts … I always love listening to the poems during the toast-making.”

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Name: From the Blue Horn Poets to the Red Century: Nino Haratischvili in conversation with Maya Jaggi
Where: Entrance Hall
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
Price: Full Price: £5.00
Member: £5.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546