Alissa Ganijewa

Mountain of the Feast

Original Russian title: Праздничная гора, published in 2012 by AST, Moscow
(German title: Die russische Mauer)
ca. 250 pages
Alissa Ganijewa
Foto: Alissa Ganijewa
© Greg Bal

Alissa Ganieva, born in 1985, grew up in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, and currently lives in Moscow.

Her literary debut, the novella Salam, Dalgat!, published under a male pseudonym, provoked contradictory reactions in Russia: astonishment, especially among young Russians, at this unknown part of their country; and anger among radical Islamists at this negative portrayal of their homeland by one of their own. Ganieva works as a journalist and literary critic. Mountain of the Feast is her first novel. Her second novel, Bride and Groom (Жених и невеста, AST 2015), is to be published by Suhrkamp in 2016. For more information, please contact the respective rights manager.

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»It is no longer possible to describe my book as fantastic or anti-utopian. It is a work of realist literature, dealing with something that might very well have happened.« Alissa Ganieva, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The literary debut of a promising Russian author from an unknown country

Shamil, a young local reporter, arrives at the paper to find his editors in a state of great agitation. There is a rumour going around that the Russians are building a wall to cut off the Caucasus. Unrest is spreading through the city on the Caspian Sea, with new assemblies being held daily. Pro-Islamic Kumyk demonstrators debate the drawing of borders with the supporters of a ‘united Lezgistan’. The atmosphere is tense. Fear hangs in the air. But Shamil tries to go on living as if nothing had changed. He goes to his martial arts classes, goes for joyrides through town with his friends, gets his rocks off at the local disco. He is in a daze when Madina, his fiancée tells him she is going to take the veil and follow a Salafist fighter into the mountains. Even after the first people have been killed and his well-educated cousin Asya tries to convince him to flee with her to Georgia and from there on into the West, Shamil cannot overcome his hesitation. But then events catch up with him.

With a fine sense for mounting catastrophe, Alisa Ganieva tells the story of the decline and fall of a society torn apart by its inherent extremes. But like a vision in the midst of this nightmare, the image of a ‘Mountain of the Feast’ appears, a refuge for all those who are tired of the intolerance and violence.


»Mountain of the Feast is a novel without heroes. Which is only consequent, as the true protagonist here is the Republic of Dagestan itself. Out of countless voices its portrait is created, heated dialogues reflect social tensions. « Cicero

»Never before has Russian literature produced such an honest and complete picture of today’s Caucasus.« Kommersant Weekend

»Ganijewa constructs an impressive polyphonic medley with the aid of textual collages and many different origins of speech. She paints the picture of a dissonant, antagonistic republic that has long since separated from the controlling power centred in Moscow and is now floating in free fall through the post-Soviet space. « DiePresse.com

»A lesson in how fast neighbours that seem to coexist peacefully can become enemies. The author Alissa Ganijewa, who was born in Dagestan, skillfully changes style and narrative levels, mixing the realistic with the fantastic.« greenpeace magazin

»Alissa Ganijewa leads her readers into a world that is shaped by disjointedness. … It's not the armed conflicts that she focuses on first and foremost, but the fine lines that separate people who sit at the same kitchen table.« Missy Magazin

Other publications

Eine Liebe im Kaukasus/Bride and Groom (2016)

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