Friday, August 10, 2012

LITERATURE: Best of Contemporary Fiction from Georgia. Edited and trans. from the Georgian by Elizabeth Heighway. (

Dalkey Archive, $29.95 (424p)
ISBN 978-1-56478-751-4

( In this sampler of 19 short stories from the eastern European nation of Georgia, readers are treated to a wide variety of fiction: short and long, realist and surreal, traditional and experimental. In the opening story, "Debi," a young boy grapples with the sexual entreaties of his pubescent sister who is stricken with cancer. In the domestic drama, "Real Beings," a man on vacation with his family flirts with having an affair with his wife's friend at the same time that his wife considers committing suicide. The moving "Love in a Prison Cell" takes place in a transit camp for prisoners on their way to the gulag, where a younger man and an older woman exchange letters through the underground post office, and gradually fall in love. In the most unusual story, "Once Upon a Time in Georgia," a man contemplates life in his pre-Perestroika country through the lens of Sergio Leone's filmic masterpiece, 1984's Once Upon a Time in America. And the penultimate story, "November Rain," is a mini-epic about a teacher and political prisoner whose life before and after the Soviet Invasion of 1921 mirrors the tidal pull of history. In the end, this collection--which spans 50 years and is firmly grounded in Georgia's past and culture--resonates with universal human concerns and hopes. (May) 
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