Project Description

Mysteries of the Russian Empire: Boris Akunin in conversation with Boyd Tonkin

Saturday 27 February – 17.00 – 18.15

Exploring Georgia past and present with the great mystery writer.

Boris Akunin’s Inspector Fandorin mysteries, which unfold during the Tsarist and early-Soviet empires and pay homage to Sherlock Holmes, have sold 20 million copies in the original Russian, and been translated into 30 languages.

Akunin is the pen-name of Grigory Chkhartishvili, Georgian-born philologist, historian and Japanese translator as well as bestselling Russian crime writer.

The author’s birthplace, which he left aged two and rediscovered only in recent years, appears in the writings of Tolstoy, Pushkin and Lermontov, as well as varied travellers from Knut Hamsun to John Steinbeck.

Chkhartishvili speaks to author, critic and journalist Boyd Tonkin, winner of the Royal Society of Literature’s 2020 Benson Medal, about his Georgian ancestry and his passion for history, how Georgia is seen through Russian eyes, and whether there is an Orientalist literature of the Caucasus.

In association with The British Library in London

The event will end with a polyphonic song, Gazapkhuli (Spring) from members of Chela, the Cambridge Georgian Choir – including Charlotte Collins, co-translator of Nino Haratischvili’s The Eighth Life: For Brilka. Their album Gaumarjos! is available via: or on CD. Contact Boris:

This is an online event. Bookers will be sent a link in advance giving access and will be able to watch at any time for 48 hours after the start time.

Bookers will also receive a link to view Saturday’s events In the Tbilisi Cafe Kitchen and Medea’s Daughters.

Please note: all timings are GMT

Tickets £5 (includes all Saturday 27 February events).

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