22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Zaza Burchuladze

Portrait Zaza Burchuladze

Zaza Burchuladze was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 1973. He studied painting at the Tbilisi State Academy of the Arts and has worked as a writer, translator and journalist. Burchuladze has translated works by Dostoyevski, Kharms and Sorokin from Russian into Georgian and has himself written numerous novels, stories, essays and movie scripts. His first works – the novel »Mineral Jazz« (2003) and the novella »Instant Kafka« (2005) – were written in the pop-lit tradition; their piquant style and provocative choice of subject matter caused a furor amongst Georgians. Today Burchuladze is considered one of Georgia’s most important contemporary writers and intellectuals.

Ignoring the attacks directed at him primarily by Georgia’s omnipresent Orthodox church, Burchuladze writes about social taboos like sexuality, drugs and violence – but also the opportunism and political apathy of his own generation. While Burchuladze’s criticism is often directed straight at Georgia’s all-powerful church representatives and their instruments of repression, his 2009 novel »adibas« focuses on the consumerist nouveaux riches of Tbilisi’s bohemian scene. Blind to the country’s threatened political situation, this elite indulges its desire for a »fake world« of branded goods and digital media. The first of Burchuladze’s novels to be translated into several other languages, »adibas« was published in English in 2014 and in German in 2015. The prizewinning author’s biggest success so far has come with his latest work, »Inflatable Angel«, which deals with the hypocritical religiosity of Georgia’s petit bourgeoisie; it was chose as Georgia’s 2011 novel of the year. Burchuladze uses many different forums to promote freedom of speech and of the press, as well as openness and tolerance in Georgia. His contributions as a journalist for Radio Free Europe, his involvement in various protest groups and above all his fearless writing frequently set off storms of controversy, which Burchuladze debated publicly with newspaper and television journalists. Yet Burchuladze paid a high price for his combative criticism – his books were publicly burned; he himself was attacked both verbally and physically, and in 2012 he was knocked down in the street. After this attack, Burchuladze moved to Germany, where he first spent a year as a guest at the Heinrich-Böll-Haus in Langenbroich. He has been a PEN-sponsored Writer in Exile since 2014 and lives with his family in Berlin, where he is working on a new novel.