Liberty’s Feast and Hangover: With Aka Morchiladze and Dato Turashvili

Thursday 25 February – 19.10 – 20.40

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The second part of a double bill of talks marking the centenary of the Soviet annexation of Georgia on 25 February 1921 and the end of the first republic.

In association with The British Library in London

Two of Georgia’s best loved writers take us on the roller-coaster of the country’s turbulent history.

The conversation will be preceded by a 20-minute film: Window on Freedom: Introducing Georgia’s First Democratic Republic of 1918-21

Three personal views by

Nikoloz Aleksidze, historian

Zurab Karumidze, writer

Levan Chogoshvili, artist

Specially made in Tbilisi by Writers’ House of Georgia for Georgia’s Fantastic Tavern, this film goes inside the former Kimerioni cafe, whose wall painting Stepko’s Tavern is the festival banner, and the Pirosmani rooms of the National Gallery in Tbilisi.

The settings of Aka Morchiladze’s award-winning fiction range from 19th-century Georgia under Russian imperial rule, to the bread queues and power cuts of the 1990s, as civil war followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. His debut novel of 1992, Journey to Karabakh, revolutionised post-Soviet Georgian fiction with its post-modern take on a privileged youth from Tbilisi looking for drugs who strays into the Nagorno-Karabakh war, finding himself caught between Armenian, Azeri and Russian factions.

Dato Turashvili was a student protest leader in the run-up to independence in 1991, and took part in events such as the demonstrations of April 1989, when peaceful protesters in Tbilisi were bludgeoned to death by Red Army soldiers. Later, he wrote a bestselling novel, Jeans Generation, that became emblematic of Soviet brutality. His new play Republic of Georgia – which had a staged reading by Voyage Theater Company at the New York Public Library in 2019 – is set in 1921. As the Red Army prepares to invade the fledgling republic, elected politicians, unsure of aid from European powers or the US, flee on a train bound for the Black Sea and exile – little knowing that 70 years would pass before independence was restored.

Reflecting on the first democratic republic of 1918-21 on the centenary of the Red Army invasion, these writers share their personal experience of the Soviet era and the 30 years that have elapsed since independence. Why has the republic’s breath of liberty a century ago become an inspiration in today’s Georgia?

They are in conversation at the digital tavern with cultural journalist and critic Maya Jaggi, Artistic Director of Georgia’s Fantastic Tavern.

In association with The British Library in London

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.

Please note: all timings are GMT