Quick Study: Mikhail Gigolashvili is a Georgian-born writer who uses word play, dark humor, and intricate storytelling in Russian-language novels that depict social change.
The Gigolashvili File: Mikhail Gigolashvili is a Russian prose writer who was born in Georgia and lives in Germany. Gigolashvili filled his novels The Interpreter and The Devil’s Wheel with characters and settings from those and other countries, including Russia and The Netherlands. The Devil’s Wheel, which looks at corruption, heroin, and changes in perestroika-era Tbilisi, was a finalist for the Big Book award, winning third prize among readers. Gigolashvili’s 2012 novel, The Taking of Muscovy—which concerns Russia, Germany, and history—carries the subtitle A National-Linguistic Novel.
Psssst………: Gigolashvili is also an artist who creates collages, sculptures, and other art objects.
Gigolashvili’s Places: Tbilisi, Georgia: Born there, received PhD at Tbilisi University, taught in Tbilisi, wrote about the city in The Devil’s Wheel. Germany: lives there since 1991, teaches Russian at Saarland University.
The Word on Gigolashvili: In praising Gigolashvili’s The Devil’s Wheel, critic Lev Danilkin notes factors like the novel’s panoramic effect and sad humor, and says the book has the effect of inspiring the reader to “attempt to read 800 pages in one sitting, despite common sense.” Danilkin later says the book looks “absolutely realistic [yet] simultaneously produces a surprising Ivan Karamazov-like effect: there is the feel of an invisible devil, personifying Evil, in the background of every scene.”
Gigolashvili on Gigolashvili: When asked in an online forum with readers about life in Germany and whether he misses Georgia, Gigolashvili said friends and family members live in Georgia but “I’m often there and I call nearly every day; I don’t feel I’m removed from the lives of my loved ones.” Gigolashvili has also said, as at the 2011 London Book Fair, that contact with another language helps him find original ways to write in Russian.
On Writing: When asked, in a very brief 2010 interview with Afisha.ru, “What sort of story will grip any reader?” Gigolashvili answered, “sex and crime.” He also said, “thanks to the long sufferings of her people, Russia’s classic writers were elevated to global heights.”
Gigolashvili Recommends: Gigolashvili specialized in Dostoevsky, has written a monograph about Dostoevsky’s storytellers, and is a member of the German Dostoevsky Society. In an online forum with readers, Gigolashvili said he read nothing but Dostoevsky for about 10 years while he wrote his dissertation. He also offered a long list of books that helped form him, including Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons, Sologub’s Petty Demon, Bely’s Petersburg, Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita, Platonov’s Foundation Pit, Shalamov’s Kolyma Tales, and Kafka’s Metamorphosis.
Photo credit: Rodrigo Fernández, creative commons