Hard by a Great Forest
by Leo Vardiashvili
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Pub Date 18 Jan 2024 | Archive Date 18 Jan 2024
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Tbilisi, Saba can’t help but be guided along a path of clues that seem to be laid out for him: pages from his father’s unpublished manuscript scattered like breadcrumbs, strange graffiti, bewildering messages transmitted through the radio.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.
‘This novel annihilated me. I gasped, laughed, and wept my way through it’
‘Tender and raw and funny, it's a rattling good read’
‘A wildly charming debut – propulsive, funny, and profound’