Olga Grjasnowa

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Olga Grjasnowa – Erlanger Poetenfest 2014
Olga Grjasnowa

Olga Grjasnowa (born November 14, 1984 in Baku, Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic, USSR) is a German writer currently living in Berlin, Germany.

Personal life and education[edit]

Olga Grjasnowa[1][2] was born into a Russian-Jewish family in Baku, Azerbaijan. Her father, Oleg Grjasnow, practiced law and her mother, Julija Winnikowa, was a musicologist. The family came to Hesse in 1996 as so-called 'quota refugees' (Kontingentflüchtlinge). Grjasnowa started learning German when she was 11 years old. She completed her secondary education in Frankfurt. Beginning in 2005, Grjasnowa first pursued a degree in art history and Slavic studies at the University of Göttingen. She then changed courses to enroll in the "Creative Writing" program offered by the German Institute for Literature in Leipzig, obtaining her bachelor's degree in 2010. After studying abroad in Poland, Russia (at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute), and Israel, Grjasnowa took up dance studies[3] at the Free University of Berlin.

She is a member of the PEN Centre Germany.

Olga Grjasnowa is married to Syrian actor Ayham Majid Agha, with whom she has one daughter.[4]

Writing career[edit]

In 2007, Grjasnowa took part in the "Klagenfurter Literaturkurs". She received a scholarship from the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in 2008. Grjasnowa took part in the "Jürgen-Ponto-Writer's-Workshop" in 2010. She received the WIENER WORTSTAETTEN's dramatist prize for her first play Mitfühlende Deutsche (Sympathetic Germans) in the same year. Grjasnowa was also awarded a Crossing Borders scholarship by the Robert Bosch Stiftung in 2011 and the Hermann Lenz Scholarship in 2012.

Her debut novel All Russians Love Birch Trees (published in the original as Der Russe ist einer, der Birken liebt) caused an immediate stir upon its publication in 2012 and was praised in the arts sections of many German newspapers.[5]


  • All Russians Love Birch Trees. Novel. Original published in 2012, translation published in 2014. ISBN 978-1-59051-584-6
  • Die juristische Unschärfe einer Ehe. Novel. 2014.
  • Gott ist nicht schüchtern. Novel. 2017.[6] Translation published in 2019 under the title City of Jasmine. ISBN 978-1-78607-487-4
Audio books
  • Der Russe ist einer, der Birken liebt. 2012.
  • Die juristische Unschärfe einer Ehe. 2014.
  • City of Jasmine. 2019.

Awards and recognition[edit]


  1. ^ Grjasnowa is not a Jewish name, as Jews in the Soviet Union were often given inconspicuous names to protect them from discrimination.
  2. ^ What’s in a Name? 25 Jewish Stories (in German, English, and French). Biel: Jewish Museum of Switzerland. 2022. ISBN 978-3-907262-34-4.
  3. ^ Talking to Dirk Kruse at the Erlanger Poetenfest in 2014, Grjasnowa reported that she had since abandoned studying dance without completing a degree.
  4. ^ Olga Grjasnowa schreibt Roman über syrische Flüchtlinge (in German), retrieved October 27, 2016
  5. ^ Süddeutsche Zeitung vom 17. März 2012, Neue Zürcher Zeitung vom 13. März 2012, Zeit vom 16. März 2012, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung vom 25. Februar 2012, Die Welt vom 8. Februar 2012
  6. ^ Buchvorschau des Aufbau Verlags
  7. ^ Hamburger Tagblatt vom 2. September 2012
  8. ^ "Arbeitsstipendien für Schriftstellerinnen und Schriftsteller 2014 vergeben" (in German). Berlin.de. April 16, 2014. Retrieved April 26, 2014.