Letter from Georgia

Georgia has proud literary traditions. Georgian is one of Europe’s oldest written languages and it is said that the country’s national epic, The Knight in the Panther’s Skin, anticipated the European Renaissance by several centuries.
An international book fair takes place in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi every year. In the last week of May, Norway was the fair’s country in focus featuring the four spring-semester participants on NORLA’s New Voices programme.

Under plakaten
At the Tbilisi Book Fair, from the left: Simen Ekern, Roskva Koritzinsky, Sigbjørn Mostue and Nils Henrik Smith.
Fra bokmessen

From the book fair in Tbilisi.

Translation seminar
Ahead of the book fair, NORLA and the University of Tbilisi arranged a translation seminar for around 40 students of Norwegian and translators from Georgia and Azerbaijan. The seminar was the brainchild of Tamar Kvizhinadze, Head of Norwegian at the university.

Tamar med ny bok cut

Tamar is also a translator. She was NORLA’s translator of the month for May. You may read our interview in Norwegian with her here.
She is pictured holding her brand new translation of Arne Svingen’s The Ballad of a Broken Nose for the very first time.


Roskva Koritzinsky, Nils Henrik Smith, Simen Ekern and Sigbjørn Mostue all delivered lectures to the students. Here, they are pictured with some of the seminar participants.

Deep dive into the texts
The four authors also took part in group work with the students, who had done translations of their texts. This led to many interesting discussions, because there’s a lot to think about when it comes to translating!

Sigbjørn gruppearbeid

“What kind of monster is a gravbøyg?”, “How big is a nisse?” the students asked Sigbjørn.

Simen gruppearbeid

“Can “røykelse” mean marijuana as well as incense in Norwegian?” Simen was asked.

Nils henrik gruppearbeid

Nils Henrik is pictured here talking about the magic of cross-country skiing in general and the 1994 relay race at Lillehammer in particular.

Roskva gruppearbeid

One topic that generated heated debate in Roskva’s group was how to give a single word like “knulle” the right nuance in Georgian.

Old town, polyphonic singing and wine fermented in clay jars
Tbilisi’s old town is on UNESCO’s world heritage list. Its brightly coloured wooden buildings with covered balconies are highly distinctive. Its streets are incredibly steep. Fortunately, there are cable cars.

Tbilisis gamleby

Tbilisi’s old town.

Tre nye stemmer over tbilisi

Nils Henrik, Sigbjørn and Simen in mid-air.

Georgisk sang

Georgia is famous for its wine, which is fermented in clay jars, as well as for its polyphonic singing and sumptuous cuisine. Our four New Voices sampled all of these after the seminar and book fair.

Simen spiller delillos

Simen plays deLillos.

Nils henrik på cafe

A well-fed, happy Nils Henrik takes a rest at one of Tbilisi’s wonky cafes the evening before the trip back home.

Text and all photos: Dina Roll-Hansen.

Read more

See the whole programme in Georgia here.

Get to know NORLA’s “New Voices” better.

Curious about which Norwegian books have been published in Georgia recently?
Here are the covers of books that were published with translation support from NORLA (up to and including 2011).

NORLA’s Senior Adviser Dina Roll-Hansen has written an article in the Norwegian daily Klassekampen about Georgia and Georgian literature.
The article (in Norwegian only) may be downloaded below.

In 2018, Georgia will be Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Read more.

Interested in reading more of NORLA’s letters from abroad?
Now we’ve collected all the articles here.