Alisa Ganieva


Alisa Ganieva is an author, journalist, and literary critic from Dagestan. Her controversial debut novel, Salaam, Dalgat! was published under a male pseudonym and received the prestigious Debut Prize—Ganieva revealed her true identity only at the award ceremony. The Mountain and the Wall, published in Russia in 2012, was recently released in the US; her follow up, The Bride and the Bridegroom, has been short-listed for the Russian Booker Prize. In 2015, the Guardian named Ganieva one of Moscow’s “30 Under 30.” She works as an editor in the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper’s book review supplement and is a TV presenter on a Russian independent channel, where she interviews experts in politics, economics, and culture. She lives in Moscow, Russia.

A hearth used to be the centerpiece of an open-spaced house, dividing it into a men’s half and a farther women’s half. The hearth was sacred, as well being the medial pillar of the house, and it represented a ritual fecundity of the clan. Fire burned incessantly, regardless of any practical need, which is how my forefathers’ cult was eventually left without forests.

My paternal great-grandfather’s dwelling, with traces of centuries-old smoke, ran short of inhabitants and collapsed at the beginning of the twentieth century. I saw its hard walls and narrow loopholes drawn in the nettles. Only four people still live in this tiny mountain village of Gunukh, and I’ve lost the path to it.


Some of my favorite people on earth are in this book,
Dear writers and grand spirits.

Annie Dillard