Tamta Melashvili [ Georgia ]
Georgian writer Tamta Melashvili was born in 1979 in the town of Ambrolauri in northwestern Georgia. After graduating from school, she began studying international relations in Tbilisi. She then lived as a migrant in Germany for a year and began writing about her experiences. She then studied Gender Studies at the Central European University in Budapest, graduating in 2008. Her short stories first appeared online on literary websites and were later included in various anthologies. In 2010 her debut novel »Counting Out« was published, which was critically acclaimed as the work of the year and in 2011 received the most important literary prize in Georgia, the SABA prize. The translation of the work also received the German Youth Literature Prize 2013. The storyline spans three days – Wednesday, Thursday and Friday – which are filled with excitement for two 13-year-old friends who, in addition to the typical teenage worries, are now finding out what it means to be in a to live in a conflict zone. Ingenuity is required to regulate the simplest everyday things. For this purpose, all the habits of peacetime are abolished. The war turns out not to be a man’s business, here above all girl’s intelligence is required for survival. »With short, rhythmic sentences, she creates oppressive immediacy without ever slipping into the sentimental. It is due to the Georgian author’s will to style and the strict narrative technique that the touching material is really gripping«, wrote Ilma Rakusa about the work in the »Neue Zürcher Zeitung«. In addition to German, the book was also translated into Croatian, Russian, Albanian and English.
Her next work »Towards East« (2015) is about a Georgian girl who grows up without love and tells the story of a woman who lives in times of totalitarianism. What is particularly striking is the haunting portrayal of the characters in this novel. The protagonists of her collection of stories »Marines angelozebi« (2017; tr. Marine’s Angels) are women of different ages and social affiliations, who mostly belong to fringe groups and whose voice carries no weight in public. The narratives give these voices a space to point out injustice, inequality and oppression.
In 2009, Tamta Melashvili received a scholarship from the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s South Caucasus regional office. Since 2012 she has been a guest lecturer at Ivane Javakhishvili State University Tbilisi, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences. In 2014/2015 Tamta Melashvili was Writer in Residence at the Literaturhaus Zürich and the Stiftung PWG in Zürich. She currently lives in Tbilisi and is a feminist activist for women’s and gender issues.
Shashvi Shashvi Magvali