Nino Haratischwili: writing in times of war

What is the role of literature when democracy is on a tipping point?

Programme editor & moderator
Merlijn Geurts

Nino Haratischwili gained international fame with the bestseller ‘The Eighth Life (for Brilka).’ In this twelve hundred-page epic a family story intertwines with the turbulent history of Georgia in the twentieth century. In the run-up to the Georgian presidential elections in October, we speak with Haratischwili and the Flemish-Polish writer and philosopher Alicja Gescinska about the increasing Russian threat in Georgia, the relationship between Eastern and Western Europe, and writing in times of war.

Nino Haratischwili is a theater director and author of the globally acclaimed novels ‘The Eighth Life (for Brilka)’ and ‘The Cat and the General,’ about the wars in Chechnya. Her most recent novel, ‘Das Mangelnde Licht’ (‘Het schaarse licht’, 2022), is about love and friendship while at the same time telling the story of Georgia’s turbulent history during and after the fall of the Soviet Union.

At this moment, Georgia is once again at a tipping point. While the majority of the population wants to join the European Union, democracy is being increasingly undermined. This spring, the pro-Russian government passed a controversial law to cleanse society of unwanted foreign elements, despite weeks of protests from tens of thousands of demonstrators.

Nino Haratischwili also believes that Georgia’s future lies in Europe. What do Georgians need, to steer the country towards Europe? And what responsibility does she feel as a writer ‘between East and West’ in these politically turbulent times?

Alicja Gesinska (Warsaw, 1981) is a writer and philosopher. In her work—ranging from philosophy to theatre to literature—she explores themes of freedom, morality, and the line between truth and falsity.


Nino HaratischwiliWriter and theatre director | Photo: G2 Barniak
Alicja GescinskaWriter, philosopher

I’m somewhere in between East and West, between two cultures and two languages

Nino Haratischwili, NRC maart 2023