Maya Jaggi is Artistic Director of Georgia’s Fantastic Tavern: Where Europe Meets Asia and an award-winning critic and cultural journalist in London. She is Critic at Large for Words Without Borders in New York. A former staff journalist on The Guardian’s international news desk, she was a profile writer and fiction critic for The Guardian Review in 1999– 2015, and has reported on culture from five continents. Besides 14 Nobel literature laureates, she has interviewed hundreds of cultural figures, from Edward Said and Noam Chomsky to WG Sebald and Abbas Kiarostami. Her writing on literature and art has appeared widely, including in Financial Times, The Economist, The New York Times and New York Review of Books.
Educated at Oxford University and the London School of Economics – where she gained a masters degree in International Relations – she has been an Associate Fellow of Warwick University and a DAAD Art and Media fellow in Berlin. She has given masterclasses in cultural journalism as an EU Senior Expert in post-Soviet capitals including Tbilisi and Kyiv, and judged literary prizes including the €100,000 Dublin Impac and (as chair) the Man Asian prize in Hong Kong. She was a finalist for the Orwell prize for journalism, and among her awards is an honorary doctorate from the UK’s Open University for an ‘outstanding contribution to education and culture’ and ‘extending the map of international writing.’
Maya Jaggi originated and was Artistic Director of Where Europe Meets Asia: Georgia25, the UK’s first festival of Georgian writers – to which Georgia’s Fantastic Tavern is the online sequel. Georgia25 took place in London in 2016 in association with the Georgian National Book Centre, to mark 25 years since the restoration of independence. During a week of sold-out talks at Asia House and Europe House – with Georgian polyphony and wine – Georgian writers were featured in UK national newspapers and on BBC flagship programmes such as Radio 4’s Today, Radio 3’s Free Thinking and World Service Newshour. The festival was described by leading Georgian novelist Aka Morchiladze (then living in London) as ‘memorably filled with curiosity and benevolence … the first close contact of Georgian literature with Britain, where it is almost unknown.’