Saturday, June 30, 2012

Kartvelian Media Roundup

Is it a genuine awakening of interest in the Caucasus - or the copious amounts of money being spent on Ivanishvili and Saakashvili's "invest in Georgia" lobbying campaigns?

Whatever the reason, I've noticed an overabundance of Georgia-related news in the mainstream media lately - CNN has been hosting an "Eye on Georgia" campaign; the normally immune-to-trendiness BBC is promoting Georgian tourism via an equally starry-eyed piece on the return of Russian tourism. The Independent is salivating over Georgian food (via the highly-recommended new Islington of Little Georgia - which, unlike its Hackney forebear, has a liquor license and plenty of Rkatskiteli - so I can't complain too badly). I'm happy to see Georgia getting coverage in the (inter)national press, but I do wish that cultural coverage (I can't speak to the political) would expand beyond Georgia's "Europeanization," khachapuri, and wine.

We're getting our requisite checklist of Georgian tropes and stereotypes (there should be a Stereotype Bingo Drinking Game) - according to the English-language media, Georgia is a magically mysterious crossroads between East and West, where ladies in [insert posh brand name here] mingle freely with [insert crude orientalist stereotype here], where the people apparently spend their days providing viticultural hospitality to well-meaning locals. (Oh, and did I mention the cheese bread). I know my own writing on Georgia's likely just as crude/Orientalist/cliche as the next attempt - but can't we talk a little about Sololaki, Mtatsminda (rather than just the same shot of shiny Meidan), Abramishvili, Georgian poetry (and its lack of availability outside of Georgia), etc?

That said, I couldn't resist throwing my hat in the ring at CNN's call for reportage, so if you want to read a brief sample of pseudo-journalistic writing, do check out my article on CNN's Ireport:

In the Back Streets of Tbilisi, A Struggle for a City's History

It's by no means proper journalism (for starters - I'm unclear about the ownership of the square - although in my defense the English-language coverage has been vague and contradictory), but it's an inspiring start and hopefully an impetus for CNN to do a bit more coverage (they say they'll pick up and run with the suggested stories.) But do check it out and vote for it - in the hopes that CNN can do more than I, with my lack of training and current location in London, can do...

(In other news, my first piece of fiction about Georgia has been picked up for publication, so the UK-based among you, do check out June's issue of Babel Anthologies, for my story "In a Thousand Different Cities")

Also, a seeming exception to this bizarre tourism-board-meets-reportage: the NYTimes coverage of the gay rights movement in Tbilisi by Haley Edwards (full disclosure: my mother apparently sat next to her on a plane a few months ago, though that's the extent of any contact)


Mzuri said...

I think Georgia has genius PR people. Look at the police videos ... masterpieces of marketing. I'd like to meet them, in fact.

Soccer Mom Style said...

Talk about lack of Georgian literature outside of Georgia! I am from there but live in the US for 18 yrs now. Married here and have two young children. It is so difficult to get my hands on any Georgian Folk tales in English I could read to my children. I've searched high and low and the only suitable book for children I found is printed in 40's: Yes and No stories by George Papashvili. Are you familiar? Very nice book to read to my children but don't you think there should be a lot more???? There is a large enough community of us now (Georgians abroad) that we want our children to know our folk tradition. I wish my children could speak and read Georgian but reality is that it is very hard for me to teach them. They understand a little Georgian but not to the extend of being able to read folk tales in Georgian :( That's just reality...

Hope you visit my blog and we could keep in touch?