The German writer Olga Grjasnowa lives and works in Amsterdam from March 13th until April 11th, at the invitation of the Dutch Foundation for Literature and the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts.
Olga Grjasnowa (1984) was born in Baku, Azerbeidzjan. At the age of twelve, she emigrated with her family to Germany, where she went to college at the Deutsches Literaturinstitut in Leipzig. The Jewish Grjasnowa lived in Warschau, Moscow, Leipzig, Göttingen and in Israel and is able to speak five different languages fluently. Her work is published in different magazines and anthologies. In 2010, she received the theatre prize of the Wiener Wortstatten for Mitfühlende Deutsche. At this moment, she studies dance at the Freie Universitat Berlin. Her debut novel Der Russe ist einer, der Birken liebt (All Russians Love Birch Trees) brings tragedy, humour and traditions together. The novel is partly autobiographical and tells the story of Masja Kogan, who fled to Germany with her parents, traumatized by the war of the 1990’s. She grows up and tries to cope with the loss of her boyfriend, who died in Israel. For Masha and her friends origin and nationality are irrelevant – they can live wherever, but they feel nowhere at home. The German magazine Die Zeit celebrated the novel as the voice of a new rootless generation, and wrote:
Masja had to be invented for German literature.
The novel was nominated for the Deutscher Buchpreis 2012 and awarded with the Klaus-Michael Kühne-Preis 2012 and the Anna Seghers-Preis 2012. It was translated into Dutch by José Rijnaarts and published in 2013 by the Bezige Bij Antwerpen under the title Een Rus is iemand die van berken houdt.
During her stay in Amsterdam, Grjasnova will be working on a novel that revolves around the ballet world. She will also read from her novel and give a public interview during the Amsterdam Book Night on Friday March 14th, 2014.