The Collection of Novels includes the author’s four most acclaimed works: The Black Sea Ocean; The President’s Cat; Return to Sukhumi and The Cyclops Bomb, about ariver where salmon spawn and lose their own lives.
Returning to Sukhumi is a semi-fictional-documentary novel. The tragic events of recent Georgian history, witnessed by the author himself, are depicted kaleidoscopically, intertwining episodes before the war, during the war and after the war. The novel comprises 45 novellas, including the well-known The Pass of the Persecuted. In this novella the author describes episodes in the Georgian-Abkhazian armed conflict. He tells the reader how he crossed a high mountain pass together with tens of thousands of others fleeing their homes. The story is told in an emotional and brusque style; the short plots make the novel read like a film script.
The Cyclops Bomb is a novel dedicated to cameramen working in hot spots. The plot follows a journey by a cameraman who finds himself in various conflict zones. The stories and events unfolding in the novel are presented as a video camera would see them, as if on video tapes. The themes in the novel drawon reality. The author travels frequently to various regions of the Caucasus. He studies conflicts in the region and the lifestyles of people of various nationalities. The heroes of this novel seek a way to solve these problems, a way which may be partially revealed in the closing phrases of the book.
The President’s Cat is virtually a book about one man, but basically this man is a kind of collective person, around whom a whole gallery of colourful personalities are gathered; the novel creates an impression with its humourous and warm stories about Sukhumi and Abkhazia, an impression that is half real, half mythical… This is the first trail-blazing book about Sukhumi in the 1970s and 1980s. The characters in the book are real people. The book also contains maps and Guram Odisharia’s typical interesting graphics.
The Black Sea Ocean, a novel of 335 pages, was the basis for a play, The Sea that is Far Away, staged in a Tbilisi theatre by the famous Georgian director Temur Chkheidze. In 2016 the play was give a prize as the best Georgian play of the year. The novel’s main characters are Zurab Doctor Dea, who live in a town on the Black Sea, in Sukhumi. They share a deep mutual love. After the 1992-3 conflict in Abkhazia, one of Georgia’s autonomous republics, they are forced to flee their native city, together with the ethnic Georgian population. After the war, Zurab and Dea live in Tbilisi. For various reasons they end up separating. One New Year’s Eve, Zurab, who is celebrating New Year with a friend, happens to learn that Dea has died. He then slips away from the restaurant and heads for the coast in his car. Actually, the greater part of the novel is about Zurab’s journey to the coast. All during the journey he recalls his best years spent with Dea, the terrible period of the war, and happy or sad events in the past. In short, the novel has many facets and many different aspects. It is a book about great love, about war and peace, hatred and sympathy, despair and hope. At the end of the novel, at the sea shore, Zurab lights candles together with a few friends in memory of Dea (he had once promised Dea that, together with her, he would one day light up the sea shore with candles). All through the novel, after the first few chapters, like a gong being struck, we have the story of salmon which swim home from the Atlantic ocean, through the Mediterranean sea, to the Black Sea, and then spawn in the headwaters of the river where they were born, before departing this life. Here it should be noted that both the novel and the play based on it have been popular with the public not only in Georgia, but also in Abkhazia. The novel’s action is dynamic and make an immediate impression on the reader. In the margins of the pages we are often given various texts and drawings which have a weighty relevance to the text, and make the book all the more original and interesting.
‘Guram Odisharia writes that in peace time only the loyal can feel love at its greatest, while the majority, unfortunately for us, need some serious troubles before they can open their eyes… and it is this ‘opening of eyes,’ or catharsis, to which the prose of this Sukhumi writer can be compared…’
G. Gvakharia, art critic / Radio Liberty
Translated into English by Elene Pagava and Ia Iashvili
THE PASS OF THE PERSECUTED
Dedicated to my daughter, Salome
The pass began much earlier, oh, God, before I put my foot on it. My child and I, my parent, near relations, those dearest to me, the living as well as the dead, and even those who will be born in the future, we all, together have been following the road along the pass for many centuries. We walk in silence. It is snowing and it is freezing… How weary is the body, and how utterly exhausted is the soul. Even the heart seems to have stopped beating. Nevertheless, we keep on walking stubbornly and faithfully. But there is no end to the road… ‘Help all the persecuted, protect all those who are miserable, oh, great Lord, oh, faith’… This is roughly the way I was speaking with God on that terrible night of the second of Octo-ber. It was perhaps the most terrible night on the highest point of the Sakeni-Chuberi pass. It was during that night that I saw sev-eral people die in my arms like birds.
I left my paternal house in the village of Machara on the evening of the twenty-seventh of September. There are four of us in my old Volga¹: my mother, my brother, a friend of mine, Gela Mamporia, and me. Salome and my wife are in Tbilisi². That is why I am rather calm. It was on the twenty-seventh of September that Sukhumi³ fell... (See PDF)
Translated into English by by David Foreman
THE CYCLOPS BOMB
All Demonstrations are Alike
I awake as always long before daybreak. I toss and turn in bed, endlessly changing TV channels – local, for-eign, transatlantic… In the end I stick with the local ones. Then the remote gets lost in the bedding. Where are you hiding down there, damn you!The news is on: a minibus upturned on the motor-way, wheels splayed helplessly, all lacerated, burnt and smoking. And bodies in the minibus, charred and like-wise still smoking. Firemen. A fire engine. Police. A po-lice car. Lots of other cars. Traffic piling up in both directions.
They should have used a long shot as well. A long shot.
They were students hurrying to a funeral service for one of their mate’s father. Why so late?... Only two out of the twelve survived: the driver and some short guy. Apparently the bus had hit the kerb, then turned over, and was carried another 100 metres to the screams and shrieks of its passengers and the scraping of metal against concrete and kerb. They said its tanks were full of petrol and it was doing at least 120 km/h. Maybe it had tried to overtake someone, or someone had tried to overtake it. And the motorway was one of the new ones, the other half of it still being built…
I had to shoot it with a long shot as well. Around midnight, when our car was making its way through the gridlock towards the TV Centre, the fumes and lights of the traffic were highly visible. But we were in a hurry... (See PDF)
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