10 Georgian Books You Need To Read
23 October, 2014
10 Georgian Books You Need To Read
DATA TUTASHKHIA BY CHABUA AMIREJIBI

The novel tells the story of a Georgian outlaw at the time of Tsardom. It combines thriller elements with Dostoyevskian themes of personal fate and national identity. Above all, though, it defends the right to personal freedom and critical expression in the face of a repressive political system. The story is told by Count Segedy, retired Russian-Hungarian chief of the Caucasian gendarmerie, interspersed with accounts from other people who have come across the outlaw Data
Tutashkhia, who leads the tsarist police chasing him on a merry dance for years. Tutashkhia is a Georgian Robin Hood and a true national treasure.

WISHING TREE BY GIORGI LEONIDZE


Poetry, vivid language and allegory mark the nearly two-dozen episodes of this epic tale about human life and its troubles, set in the Georgian village at the turn of the century. One continuing thread concerns a young woman, in love with a man, who is married off (sound familiar?!) to another by the village elders. Full of eccentric, funny, witty village characters are portrayed, from simpletons to fortunetellers, and their dreams reveal what each considers to be happiness in this life. Giorgi Leonidze wrote a solid drama, but after finishing last page, you will feel happy not sad. Such is the greatest accomplishment for any writer.

STEALING THE MOON BY KONSTANTINE GAMSAKHURDIA

Stealing the Moon is a masterfully written “socialist” novel - a story of love and collectivization in Abkhazia. Gamsakhurdia’s irony is so strong that readers can see in the novel either a protest against destruction or a thanksgiving for collectivization. The novel is full of contradictions, denouncing religion. It’s full of religious sentiment and vocabulary. Disclaiming ideology, it is didactic. Stealing the Moon is not so much about the abduction of the beautiful heroine as the death of old Georgia, symbolized by the cult of Saint George. This is the most poetic prose one can ever read.

KNIGHT IN THE PANTHER’S SKIN BY SHOTA RUSTAVELI

When I first read Knight in the Panther’s Skin, I was way too young to fully appreciate it. I understood, of course, the backstory about friendship, love, honor and overall of any kind of relationships – with friends or with enemies. My first reaction was: “This epic is epic.” It is full of dudes being killed in almost exquisite detail, dudes talking about killing or not killing other dudes, dudes mourning dead dudes in a totally-not-homoerotic way (or not), and dudes yelling e captures every breath of the place he introduces to you in his novels. His characters are full of life, witty, hilarious and most importantly emotional. You will fall in love with the heroes and after lot of fun your face will be covered in tears. It is a pure emotional journey.

MAGDANA'S DONKEY BY EKATERINE GABASHVILI

Ekaterine Gabashvili is the only female writer in this brief list. Magdana’s donkey is a charming folktale. The life of poor widow Magdana, his children and the only source of income for the family – the donkey Lurja (Blue) makes for a very sad tale. It is a story that will easily to touch the emotions of any reader. The story is beautifully sentimental and poignant.

ME, GRANDMA, ILIKO AND ILLARION BY NODAR DUMBADZE

Picture this: If P.G. Woodhouse was born in Georgia and his writing was not about high class society and their skillful servants, but about the working class and their life in countryside – basically this is how Me, Grandma, Iliko and Illarion will make you feel. Writer Nodar Dumbadze was a marvelous lyricist. He captures every breath of the place he introduces to you in his novels. His characters are full of life, witty, hilarious and most importantly emotional. You will fall in love with the heroes and after lot of fun your face will be covered in tears. It is a pure emotional journey.

JAQO’S DISPOSSESSED BY MIKHEIL JAVAKHISHVILI

Author Mikheil Javakhishvili produced inventive and captivating prose that tells the story of a sympathetic but doomed intellectual. Count Teimuraz and his wife Margo live poorly in Tbilisi and are getting more and more impoverished due to the Soviet invasion of Georgia. Their farm laborer Jako takes advantage of the naivety and poverty of Teimuraz and seizes all of his belongings through deception, including his wife. In this absolutely true, absolutely ordinary life situation, yet many things are symbolic, figurative and metaphorical. This is no small art. This is great art - the real masterpiece of a realistic novel and Javakhishvili is the incomparable grand master narrator.

HOST AND GUEST AND ALUDA KETELAURI BY VAZHA PSHAVELA

Vazha Pshavela is a genuinely great writer of whom few people have heard about internationally. These narrative poems have to do with the harsh life and the moral codes of tribes in the Georgian mountains, and what happens when their personal conscience puts them at odds with society. The poems’ vivid imagery and philosophical depth place them squarely on the plane of major world literature. The Georgian film director Tengiz Abuladze adapted some of Vazha Pshavela’s poetry in the film, The Entreaty (Vedreba), which is a remarkable work in its own right. Vazha Pshavela’s Poetry was an entirely new step in the development of Georgian Realism.

TRIP TO KARABAKH BY AKA MORCHILADZE

Celebrated modern Georgian writer Aka Morchiladze’s first and most well known novel has been a bestseller in Georgia ever since it first appeared. This is an indication of the narrative’s continuing relevance, especially in its treatment of the emotional condition of an entire generation and the absurdity of the conflicts in the Caucasus. It is a book about the tricky business of finding and defining liberty. The main character’s rite of passage through geographical and emotional conflict is as entertaining as it is illuminating about ethnic tensions in the region. His increasing cynicism and despair is also emblematic of Georgia’s own strife as various factions fight for control. As Morchiladze wryly suggests, sometimes the fight for liberty throws up more limitations than the repression it seeks to escape.

WISDOM OF FANCY BY SULKHAN-SABA ORBELIANI

Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani was what Krilov is for Russians and Lafontaine for French. He played an important role in the development of Georgian Prose. His book, Wisdom of Fancy, is a collection of fables, proverbs and principles related to the education of a king’s son. It contains highly entertaining, fairytale-like, smartly told stories about people and animals that reflect society’s structure and the bright and dark side of human nature. Even though it was written in the 17th century, it is relevant today and is a great cautionary tale for teenagers.

Author: Bacho Odisharia
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