Culture
“We will fight for Georgian literature”
03 September, 2019
One year after Georgia’s well received appearance at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the organizational mastermind, Medea Metreveli, lost her job. Now she's coming up with a new project.

Medea Metreveli, on June 20th you protested in front of the parliament after a Russian official sat on the chair reserved for the head of parliament. But this wasn’t the only thing that enraged you that night, was it?

No, I had just lost my job. That was
the day I was informed that the Ministry of Education and Culture had decided to merge two cultural institutions: “Georgian National Book Centre” which I presided over and “The Writer’s House of Georgia”. The new institution was going to be presided over by somebody new. It was a shock.

Why was this decision taken?

I can’t understand it. And neither can a lot of Georgian writers. They threatened to boycott this new institution. Meanwhile the government gave in – in the sense that the new Institution will be called “Writer’s House” and be presided over by the former director of this institution.

Why didn’t they offer you the job?

I think this was a political decision. We became very independent within the governmental institutions. When for example in 2017 the writer Zviad Ratiani left the country after he was beaten up by the police, our organisation decided to hold on to him and Georgian writers supported him during the Book Fair. This was very well recognized by German officials as well as the Georgian people.

But not by the people responsible in the Georgian Government?

I suppose not. It is one of the reasons why my centre was shut down.

So what are your future plans?

I, together with five former co-workers are building up a new, independent Institute called “Literature Initiative Georgia”. We already have the support of the German “Konrad Adenauer Stiftung” and are looking for other international partners to work with. We don’t know what will be the long-term strategy of the new state institution will be. But we will try to fill the gaps and implement projects with Georgian writers and artists where the state Institution will not be active. I really hope that the know-how and the contacts me and I and my team have established in the last few years years won’t get lost – for the sake of Georgian Literature.

By Valerie Wacker

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