22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Alissa Ganijewa

Alisa Ganieva was born in 1985 in Moscow, and grew up in Makhachkala, the capital of the Caucasus republic of Dagestan. She is an author and literary critic, whose independent voice has shaken up the Russian cultural scene for a number of years, who graduated from the Maxim Gorky Literary Institute. Ganieva is known primarily for her unsparing portrayal of current developments in her homeland. Her prose paints an image of an impoverished republic completely dominated by Moscow, in the cross fire between Soviet traditions and an increasingly radicalized Islam.

After a number of articles Ganieva wrote for Russian periodicals and daily newspapers while she was a still a student gained considerable attention, in 2008 she was awarded a prize for »unfashionable thinking«, a distinction awarded by her university, recognizing her role as a critical author and journalist. In 2010 her debut novel »Salam tebe, Dalgat!« (tr. Salaam, Dalgat!), which she submitted for a competition under a male pseudonym in 2009, won the prestigious Russian literary Debut Prize. In this astute analysis of Dagestani conditions, the protagonist Dalgat draws such a shockingly accurate portrait of the city that it provoked extremely strong reactions as well as generating considerable international interest. The »Neue Zürcher Zeitung« declared Ganieva’s already much-translated first novel, »Prazdničnaja gora« (2012; Eng. »The Mountain and the Wall«, 2015) an »incisive event in contemporary Russian literature«. The polyphonic, collage-like prose maps out an apocalyptic scenario: while Russia purportedly wants to build a wall to separate the Caucasus from the rest of the country, conflicts between the different Islamic groups in Makhachkala are escalating. Although Shamil, a rakish young man, is currently without a job, he manages to arrange himself quite nicely in the general chaos. Even when his fiancée follows a young Salafist fighter into the mountains and although there have already been some fatalities, he is incapable of deciding whether he should flee and therefore escape the imminent threat of escalation. The result of his indecision is vaguely indicated at the very end of the novel. Published in 2015, Ganieva’s second novel, »Ženich i nevesta« (tr. The bride and bridegroom), also examines the relationship between Russia and the Caucasus.

She has received numerous awards for her work, among which is the »Oktjabr« Journal Prize for literary criticism, and the Great Prose Debut Prize for »Salam tebe, Dalgat!« in 2009. In 2010 she was one of the finalists of the Yury Pavlovich Kazakov Literary Prize. Alisa Ganieva lives in Moscow.