Discussion / Reading 15 October 2018


19:00 Location: Berlin Buch|bund bookshop, Sanderstraße 8, Berlin-Neukölln, Germany Organizer: edition.fotoTAPETA, Georgian National Book Center Authors: Abo Iashagashvili, Irma Tavelidze
Publisher: edition.fotoTAPETA

The day after the Buchmesse

The Invention of The East
Irma Tavelidze is a masterful storyteller with a unique literary voice. The stories in The Invention of the East consist mainly of seductively slow tales that the first-person narrator recalls from the past. Often the stories involve an amour fou – lives full of burning, insatiable longing. Tavelidze focuses on a particular type of person, varying the character with great literary skill: he or she is a self-centered intellectual, approaching collapse, with a strong libido, prone to transgressions and excesses, with an active imagination that replaces or absorbs the character’s perception of life. Although the stories tell of particular individuals, they are pervaded by the atmosphere of the country and the period. One of the short stories from the collection Gori Fortress was included in the Anthology of Georgian Short Stories of 21st century Goris Fästning published by Swedish edition house Tranan. The Anthology is named after Irma Tavelidzes story. The narrator of the story is a 10-year-old boy who tries to find his own way to poetry and at the same time to make sense of his vague desires and annoying duties. Gori – a city in Eastern Georgia – with its well-known fortress serves as the background for the narrator’s reflections. The Invention of the East was shortlisted for the Literary Award SABA in 2014 in the category The Best Collection of Stories of the Year.

Royal Mary
In XIX century Tiflis, where European and Asian architecture merge, near the main avenue, between Tatars square and Shaitan Bazaar, steeped in tobacco and coffee aromas, there is a theft! Royal Mary, a 5 years old English horse, an unbeaten favorite at all the horse-races in Caucasus, is stolen from the famous Alikhanov stable. Royal Mary was to be presented to the Persian Shah, who was planning to visit the Georgian capital in a couple of days. There are no clues in the stable, except for a single white rose. The case is given to a descendant of an Aquitaine noble family, the elegant and intelligent Louis Albrais, to investigate. The number of victims gradually increases: in various districts corpses are found, knifed in the back and with a single rose, either white or red, left on the body as the murderer’s signature. Louis Albrais realises that the horse theft is part of a bigger plot with even more uncanny and surprising details. Tbilisi’s narrow streets have become a playground for secret agents of foreign countries, whose one purpose to reach the Shah and influence Persia. When he plays game of chess with the French Consul, Louis Albrais realises that placing white or red roses at the crime sites imitates a chess game’s alternation of white and black figures. The series of murders began with a pawn – a stableman – and will presumably end with the king. And who will be the last victim? The detective fears that it will be the Shah himself. The story is narrated in a style typical of XIX century Tbilisi. Humour, imagination, an exotic mixture of facts and fiction, of tragic and comic protagonists are the main features of Abo Iashagashvili’s novel. The book is intended for those who like light thrillers as well as lovers of serious literature, and is full of allusions. The reader will periodically be reminded of Kipling, Hoffmann, Pushkin, Hamsun, Hugo, Chesterton, Stevenson, Borges, A Thousand and One Nights, and many other authors and works.