Zaza Burchuladze Awarded Literary Prize

Literary critics have awarded Georgian author Zaza Burchuladze and translator Natia Mikeladze-Bakhsoliani for bringing the popular novel A Tourist’s Breakfast to German-speaking readers.

Born in 1973, Zaza is a contemporary postmodern writer and dramatist. He graduated the Monumental and Ornamental Painting department of Tbilisi State Academy of Arts and began writing and publishing his books at the age of 24. Until 2001, he published his works under the pen-name of Gregory Zamza. His short stories have been regularly published in Georgian literary and art magazines. Burchuladze translated numerous Russian contemporary novels and classics, some of these include authors like Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Vladimir Sorokin. He worked as a freelance journalist for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and taught Literature and Contemporary Art at the Caucasian Media Institute. Burchuladze’ narratives often startle the audience with his experimental way of writing and the provocative themes he takes up, often topics considered taboo. He writes texts about political conformity, violence and brutality, addressing ideological and religious topics as well as sexuality. In Georgia, he is well known not only for his scandalous novels, but also as a very talented actor who successfully starred in a Georgian feature movie in 2008. Burchuladze’s novels have been translated and published in Russia, Poland and Romania. His novel The Inflatable Angel won the 'Best Novel of the Year' in 2011, an annual literary award held by Ilia State University. He was invited to la Nuit de la Littérature 2014 in Paris, France. In 2011, he participated in the Literary Colloquium in Berlin.

Natia Mikeladze-Bakhsoliani was born in 1966. She translates from Georgian into German or vice versa. Her best-known translated books are Aka Morchiladze’s “Santa Esperanza” and Tamta Gelashvili’s “Counting Out”. For the translation of the latter, she was awarded the Saba Literary Prize for the Best Translation from Georgian and German Youth Literature in 2013.

The duo received the Brücke Berlin Literary and Translator Award of the BHF BANK Foundation, organizers of the prize announced this week. Zaza Burchuladze’s best-selling work was published in Georgian back in 2015, translated by Mikeladze-Bakhsoliani and printed by Berlin-based Blumenbar Verlag publishing house last year.

The book in question, A Tourist’s Breakfast, follows the protagonist in their wanders around Berlin, accompanied by recollections of his previous life in Tbilisi. Receiving half of the 20,000 EUR prize money that came with the win, the two will be formally distinguished at a ceremony in Berlin later this year.

“This book is an example of documentary, autobiographical prose, although the text is also written in such a way that you never fully understand whether the stories he tells are invented or true,” said a Georgian National Book Center summary.

Burchuladze, the author of other notable works, including Adibas and Inflatable Angel, was labeled one of the most important writers of post-Soviet Georgian literature by The Wiedling Literary Agency.

“’Sometimes I think what a darling I am,’ someone bursts out to Zaza, and it really is like that: he is very appealing in this book, because of his sincerity, his way of thinking, his sudden spurts of humor and carefreeness and, of course, his sharp teeth always slipping out in this humor or carefreeness,” said Shota Iatashvili, critic.

The publication of A Tourist’s Breakfast in German language coincides with Georgia’s representation at this year’s upcoming Frankfurt Book Fair as the official Guest of Honor country.

By Shawn Wayne

12 July 2018 20:56