The Eighth Life (for Brilka)
Translated from the German by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin
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.
About the Author
Nino Haratischvili was born in Georgia in 1983, and is an award-winning novelist, playwright, and theatre director. At home in two different worlds, each with their own language, she has been writing in both German and Georgian since the age of twelve. In 2010, her debut novel Juja was nominated for the German Book Prize, as was her most recent Die Katze und der General in 2018. In its German edition, The Eighth Life was a bestseller, and won the Anna Seghers Prize, the Lessing Prize Stipend, and the Bertolt Brecht Prize 2018. It is being translated into many languages, and has already been a major bestseller on publication in Holland, Poland, and Georgia.
Charlotte Collins is the co-chair of the UK Translators Association and a literary translator from the German. Her translation of Robert Seethaler’s A Whole Life was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker International Prize.
Ruth Martin is a freelance literary translator whose work includes a wide range of novels, short stories, non-fiction titles and children’s books. She has broad experience of working with publishers in the UK, US and German-speaking countries, and regularly prepares reader’s reports and sample translations. Ruth is currently co-chair of the Translators Association committee.
The Eighth Life (for Brilka) by the Georgian writer Nino Haratischwili is a monumental political novel about the demise of a family, a culture and a way of life. The charming Nitsa is the descendant of a Georgian top chocolatier. She describes her family history to her niece Brilka. Six generations of strong women are discussed. They are intelligent, beautiful, colorful, brave, magical and exceptional women. The family history immediately becomes the history of Georgia with its communist regime and the consequences of the Russian occupation.
This book of considerable size remains fresh and light due to the construction, style and content. The novel has an original setting, it’s cleverly told, in a baroque style, full of irony. Despite the horrors described it never gets a gloomy character. This classical epic with its magical-realistic elements has the allures of the great Russian novels. In short Pasternak meets Márquez. Openbare Bibliotheek Brugge (Bruges Public Library), Belgium