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Hard by a Great Forest: A Novel

Hard by a Great Forest: A Novel

Current price: $29.00
Publication Date: January 30th, 2024
Publisher:
Riverhead Books
ISBN:
9780593545034
Pages:
352
Usually Ships in 2 to 5 Days

Set in war-torn Tbilisi, Georgia, this is a story of love, loss, and sacrifice. Somehow, Vardiashvili captures the anguish of losing one’s home with glimmers of hope and humor.

Pat Rudebusch, Orinda Books, Orinda, CA
February 2024 Indie Next List

Description

NAMED ONE OF THE OBSERVER’S 10 BEST NEW NOVELISTS FOR 2024

"The stakes could barely be higher in Leo Vardiashvili’s propulsive page-turner…It’s a spellbinding achievement."—The Financial Times

“Has a commercial-fiction spring in its step.… Vardiashvili also has captured the winking, world-weary humor and magic-realist touches that mark a lot of literature from Europe’s war-torn corners.” Los Angeles Times

"This novel annihilated me.... Left my heart bruised and battered and aching for more." —Khaled Hosseini, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Kite Runner

“Tender and raw and funny.” —Colum McCann, National Book Award winning author of Let the Great World Spin

"Propulsive, funny, and profound."—Elif Batuman, Pulitzer Prize finalist and bestselling author of The Idiot

“A book like no other, from an imagination like no other.” —Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Less Is Lost

Amid rubble and rebuilding in a former Soviet land, one family must rescue one another and put the past to rest: a stirring novel about what happens after the fighting is over

Saba is just a child when he flees the fighting in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia with his older brother, Sandro, and father, Irakli, for asylum in England. Two decades later, all three men are struggling to make peace with the past, haunted by the places and people they left behind.

When Irakli decides to return to Georgia, pulled back by memories of a lost wife and a decaying but still beautiful homeland, Saba and Sandro wait eagerly for news. But within weeks of his arrival, Irakli disappears, and the final message they receive from him causes a mystery to unfold before them: “I left a trail I can’t erase. Do not follow it.”

In a journey that will lead him to the very heart of a conflict that has marred generations and fractured his own family, Saba must retrace his father’s footsteps to discover what remains of their homeland and its people. By turns savage and tender, compassionate and harrowing, Hard by a Great Forest is a powerful and ultimately hopeful novel about the individual and collective trauma of war, and the indomitable spirit of a people determined not only to survive, but to remember those who did not.

About the Author

Leo Vardiashvili was born and raised in Tbilisi, Georgia. When he was twelve, he and his family fled Georgia’s post-Soviet regime for asylum in England. He studied English literature at Queen Mary University of London.

Praise for Hard by a Great Forest: A Novel

Praise for Hard By a Great Forest:

“Vardiashvili’s heartbreaking debut novel lays bare the effects that displacement can have over generations and illuminates the resilience of those who have suffered and still found their way to happiness.”The Washington Post

“Cunning and unstinting, humanist and self-aware…Evoke[s] a thorough understanding of war, escape and violence… reflecting the cyclical nature of familial death and individual reconstitution. The unstable way we return home.” The New York Times

“Has a commercial-fiction spring in its step.… Vardiashvili also has captured the winking, world-weary humor and magic-realist touches that mark a lot of literature from Europe’s war-torn corners.” —The Los Angeles Times

"The stakes could barely be higher in Leo Vardiashvili’s propulsive page-turner… [Vardiashvili’s] sprawling narrative, part comic, part tragic, abounds in mysteries, monsters, magic and terrors. It’s a spellbinding achievement."The Financial Times

“Smart and gamesome.” Wall Street Journal

“This debut novel captures both the long scars of collective trauma and the indomitable spirit of those determined to remember and survive.”—Oprah Daily

"When we land in Tbilisi with Saba we are in a fairy tale world, though one redrawn by Kafka. . . And what a tale it is. . .what makes this story so spellbinding, is what happens along the way."—Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"Beguiling… Vivid, nostalgia-tinged images are littered throughout Leo Vardiashvili’s moving debut… Vardiashvili mixes a breezy tone with glinting lyricism."—The Sunday Times

"A playful and sinister narrative about two siblings sent to the woods by their father… a treasure hunt through Georgian culture."—Times Literary Supplement

"A compelling novel about war, family separation and ambivalent homecoming, its tale of sacrifice, guilt and betrayal is propelled by dark mysteries and offset by glorious shafts of humour… heart-wrenching and comic… Novels such as this might help light the way."—The Guardian

"Both a thrilling mystery-adventure hybrid and the sort of war-devastated drama that leaves your chest heaving, all folded into one precious debut."Elle

“Vardiashvili keeps readers invested with the grit and generous spirit of his characters….a great read, full of history, mystery and chance reunions that asks the reader to examine how we can move forward when we’re followed by the ghosts of the past.”—BookPage

“Vardiashvili’s amazing and poignant tale of loss and resilience draws readers in with compelling descriptions of land and place. Saba encounters horrid acts of violence or their aftermath, but he also finds beauty, even magic and mystery. A remarkable debut.”—Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Heartrending, beautifully crafted. . .Laced with humor and insights similar to those of Gary Shteyngart and Jonathan Safran Foer, this is a sweeping, ambitious, and almost unbelievably assured debut. Exploring the long shadow of trauma cast by any war, Vardiashvili's novel pummels the reader with an emotional force that few can match.” Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

"[A] spectacular debut. . .The tense plot ups the ante from one narrow escape to the next, and Vardiashvili layers his seamless blend of genres (police thriller, fairy tale quest, coming-of-age story) with lush depictions of Georgia’s landscape, culture, and resilient people. This will leave readers breathless.”Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

"An unforgettable aria to a lost homeland, full of anger, sorrow, and longing."Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW

"Lushly haunted debut...Fans of Téa Obreht's The Tiger's Wife will feel right at home."—Shelf Awareness

"Movingly evokes the complicated feelings of trying to recapture and redefine what home looks and feels like. Vardiashvili doesn't shy away from depicting the violence and trauma that still roil under the surface of Tbilisi's shiny new cityscape or that boil over in the disputed territory of Ossetia. But he also describes the unfailing generosity and hospitality of its people."Bookreporter

"This novel annihilated me.  I gasped, laughed, and wept my way through it. Rich with irony and animated with astonishing humanity, this tale of a young Georgian refugee’s odyssey into his birthplace to rescue family left my heart bruised and battered and aching for more." —Khaled Hosseini, author of #1 New York Times bestseller The Kite Runner

“This novel blows open the heart of the past.  It's a mystery, it's a picaresque, it's a comedy, and it's an authentic song of belonging and unbelonging. Tender and raw and funny, it's a rattling good read about the loss of home and the primacy of story-telling.  By turns political and philosophical, it introduces a fine new voice in contemporary fiction.”—Colum McCann, National Book Award winning author of Let the Great World Spin

"A wildly charming debutpropulsive, funny, and profound."Elif Batuman, Pulitzer Prize finalist and bestselling author of The Idiot

“Astonishingly crafted with history, candor, beauty, grief and just a little magic. A book like no other, from an imagination like no other. Vardiashvili has written a triumph.” Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Less Is Lost

“Profoundly moving and rich with humor and heartbreak, Hard by a Great Forest mesmerized me from the very first page. It will capture your heart.” Jean Kwok, New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Translation