- Modern Georgian Prose
The author was awarded LITERA PRIZE for this book in 2020 (nomination: best novel of the year).
In Irakli Samsonadze’s new novel, two strange performances play out alongside each other at a thirty-year interval. The first takes places at a restaurant in Kutaisi. The year is 1988, and the collapse of the Soviet Empire is still inconceivable, not least to the group of childhood friends who are gathered around the table. Their host, known by his nickname Trulaila, is holding a feast, a traditional Georgian kelekhi, to mark his own damned death. The friends laugh and joke – this is not the type of kelekhi they are used to. It’s an adventure that will be remembered for a long time to come, an event to arouse smiles. Librarian Lamarie is chosen to be master of ceremonies, tamada. Lamarie is a woman but was anointed “one of the lads” by Trulaila in childhood. The jokey atmosphere gradually changes as Lamarie brings in with her a cold wind and some sharp truths.
The second narrative takes place in today’s Georgia and tells us the story of a menopausal actress. It is a long time since she has been offered a role, and this pains her greatly, leaving her living in a regime of expectation. For comparatively long periods in her life, she has lived with three different men – an actor, a director, and a playwright. Dea has one final passion, one that she keeps hidden: she is a kleptomaniac. When she steals some unimportant, completely useless item, she feels a rush of adrenaline, as if transported back onto the stage she has missed so much. Then, one day, desperate to free herself of her neuroses and fear, she hurries off to one of the city’s underground passages where market stalls are set up. She is “on the hunt”. She wants to steal something, to master her fear, to rekindle her passion…