Words was first published in the series The Best Georgian Short Novels of All Time. After that, the author extended his text and after his death the novel was published to be remembered by critics as one of the most important examples of Georgian post-modernism, in which the existence of ordinary people in Georgia over the last decades is portrayed to perfection. Two friends, Zaza (a psychology student) and Levan (working in the theatre as a literary consultant and studying at the directing faculty) establish an ‘office of bliss’ where the ‘bliss experts’ can provide everything that gives utter bliss. Their third friend, Guja, chooses a fairly traditional form of bliss, a beautiful young girl; but the main hero of the work, to everyone’s surprise, doesn’t choose any drug or other intoxicating (bliss-giving) substance: he chooses a jewel casket which contains living words. Levan reacts to these words with childish fear, in case they escape from the casket. But for Levan and Zaza, from now on, every word takes on a face, a smell, a body. For instance, the word ‘me’ is blood-coloured, fleshy and tremulous. Words can fly, swim and they become the main active force in the atmosphere. The novel’s heroes begin to create new sentences and texts with these words. Zaza Tvaradze dedicated the novel to a deceased friend, Leviko Chqonia. This Levan is in fact the main hero, but the writer has managed at the same time to create the best self-portrait; Zaza as a character seems to take back-stage in the book, although in the dynamic course of the work, he in fact emerges as the main hero and from a virtual shadow comes the birth of the powerful writer, as a reality. He introduces us to a world full of magic, in which he spent his life from the treacherous 1990s, when ‘the city coughed like a consumptive idiot whose teeth have fallen out.’ Words is the outcome of the richest and most unbridled imagination; it is a book in which irony mixes with melancholy and which is built on dreams. The novel will be liked by the new generation of readers, those who are seeking something with a particular affinity to them in contemporary literature. It is because of the creation of this magical world that Zaza Tvaradze has established his permanent place in Georgian literature and that today, after his death, his ‘silvery words’ once more light up and rebound, as they did in the author’s lifetime. Read the novel Words and you will understand what it means when words wordlessly submit to a writer.
‘This novel really was like nothing else that I had read, and yet it was something that meant a lot to me: even though the novel contained elements, such as what we could call, on one hand, a jungle of words, on the other hand the utterly unbridled imagination of the novel’s heroes, and so on – despite the so-called non-realistic aspects, the novel was very realistic and one of the best novels to portray Georgian reality in the 1990s.’
L. Shatberashvili, philosopher / Radio Liberty
‘There is no point recounting the plot of the novel. I’ll just talk about the sphere of words, words which in the novel seem to emerge from the bottom of the sea, sometimes emitting the scent of honey, sometimes of almond milk, sometimes drifting along, bobbing up and down, while at other times fluttering like butterflies. They are like trees in blossom, yet every word in itself arouses some unique associations, and involves the author in a game, so that you are reminded by it of Plato’s Cratylus dialogue.’
M. Kharbedia, author, literary critic / Radio Liberty
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