Hard by a Great Forest

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Pub Date 30 Jan 2024 | Archive Date 30 Jan 2024

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Description

Saba’s father is missing, and the trail leads back to Tbilisi. 

It’s been two decades since Irakli fled his war-torn homeland with two young sons, now grown men. Two decades since he saw their mother, who stayed so they could escape. At long last, Tbilisi has lured him home. But when Irakli’s phone calls stop, a mystery begins...

The first clue: a cryptic email delivered to the two puzzled brothers.

My boys. I did something I can’t undo. 

I need to get away from here before those people catch me. Maybe in the mountains I’ll be safe.

I left a trail I can’t erase. Do not follow it.

Arriving in Tbilisi, Saba can’t help but be guided along a path of clues that seem to be laid out for him: pages from his father’s unpublished manuscript scattered like breadcrumbs, strange graffiti, bewildering messages transmitted through the radio. As the voices of those left behind pull at the edges of his world, Saba will discover that all roads lead back to the past, and to secrets swallowed up by the great forests of Georgia.

In a winding pursuit through the magic and mystery of returning to a lost homeland, Hard by a Great Forest is a rare, searching tale of home, memory and sacrifice – of one family’s mission to rescue one another, and put the past to rest.

Saba’s father is missing, and the trail leads back to Tbilisi. 

It’s been two decades since Irakli fled his war-torn homeland with two young sons, now grown men. Two decades since he saw their mother...


Advance Praise

‘This novel annihilated me. I gasped, laughed, and wept my way through it’

KHALED HOSSEINI


‘Tender and raw and funny, it's a rattling good read’

COLUM MCCANN


‘A wildly charming debut – propulsive, funny, and profound’

ELIF BATUMAN

‘This novel annihilated me. I gasped, laughed, and wept my way through it’

KHALED HOSSEINI


‘Tender and raw and funny, it's a rattling good read’

COLUM MCCANN


‘A wildly charming debut – propulsive...


Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781526659828
PRICE £16.99 (GBP)
PAGES 352

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Average rating from 72 members


Featured Reviews

I'd like to write something more profound than Khaled Hosseini's review of this book but I'll never be that eloquent. All I can say is that it hit me the exact same way. It is funny, it is horrific, it takes your breath away, it leaves you gasping, fighting back tears.

The story follows Saba as he returns from an 18 year absence to his home country of Georgia (a place I knew nothing about before this book). Saba is following his brother, Sandro who, in turn, has gone to find their father Irakli. Saba's mother, Eka, was left behind when the family fled post-Soviet, mid civil war Georgia. Irakli's grief and guilt has taken him back to find out what happened but he has since gone missing. First one then the other son need to find him.

There's so much I'd like to say in praise of this book but I fear if I started I'd not stop and you'd get bored. Far easier for me to say this is a book that you should read. It is a book about loss, fear, war, injustice, greed, family, survivor guilt but, most of all, love. We meet some pure characters along the way - Nodar and his wife, Ketino, who lost their daughter during the bombing in Ossetia. Surik, who also loved Eka, even the ghosts in Saba's mind are fully formed.

This is an excellent novel that will make you laugh and cry in equal measure. I honestly can't praise it enough. After this debut novel I expect further great things from Leo Vardiashvili. Very highly recommended.

Thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for the advance review copy (due out 18.1.24). Most appreciated.

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