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The Eighth Life (for Brilka) - Nino Haratischvili

The Eighth Life (for Brilka) - Nino Haratischvili


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Our take

Originally published in German in 2014, this award-winning epic novel by Georgian writer Nino Haratischvili, takes us on a tour of the “red century”, “a century that cheated and deceived everyone”. This family saga is told by Niza, a woman in her early 30s living in present-day Germany, whose family stories “formed the very ingredients of [her] life.” She retraces her family’s history back to her great-grandfather, a master chocolatier in Georgia at the beginning of the 19th century. The novel looks at the history of a family and that of a country as it goes through tumultuous times spanning the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, the Second World War, the Prague Spring and into the 21st century. Masterfully combining historical grasp and psychological acuity, this novel is a tribute to family memories that ends on a hopeful note: there just might be a better future for the generations to come.

Publisher's description

Six romances, one revolution, the story of the century.

‘That night Stasia took an oath, swearing to learn the recipe by heart and destroy the paper. And when she was lying in her bed again, recalling the taste with all her senses, she was sure that this secret recipe could heal wounds, avert catastrophes, and bring people happiness. But she was wrong.’

At the start of the twentieth century, on the edge of the Russian Empire, a family prospers. It owes its success to a delicious chocolate recipe, passed down the generations with great solemnity and caution. A caution which is justified: this is a recipe for ecstasy that carries a very bitter aftertaste …

Stasia learns it from her Georgian father and takes it north, following her new husband, Simon, to his posting at the centre of the Russian Revolution in St Petersburg. Stasia’s is only the first in a symphony of grand but all too often doomed romances that swirl from sweet to sour in this epic tale of the red century.

Tumbling down the years, and across vast expanses of longing and loss, generation after generation of this compelling family hears echoes and sees reflections. Great characters and greater relationships come and go and come again; the world shakes, and shakes some more, and the reader rejoices to have found at last one of those glorious old books in which you can live and learn, be lost and found, and make indelible new friends.

Praise and awards

A harrowing, heartening and utterly engrossing epic novel … astonishing … A subtle and compelling translation by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin (on the heels of a Georgian version earlier this year) should make this as great a literary phenomenon in English as it has been in German.’
Maya Jaggi, The Guardian



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