Human Sadness

Goderdzi Chokheli


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Dedalus Ltd
6 July 2024
ISBN: 9781915568502
144 pages

From the publisher

Human Sadness is a classic Georgian novel translated into English for the first time. Set in the harsh mountain world of Soviet Georgia, Goderdzi Chokheli’s 1984 novel is a journey through life, where ‘every character is a story’, where the real and the magical intermingle. The story is narrated by five distinct voices, each of which was translated by a different translator - Geoffrey Gosby, Clifford Marcus, Ollie Matthews, Margaret Miller, Walker Thompson - in order to preserve its individuality.

The book begins as a frustrated young novelist comes across a collection of notebooks and letters documenting a strange military campaign, of which his grandmother was a part. One winter, the inhabitants of Chokhi, a remote village – primarily women, children and old men, as most of the young men are away tending to their flocks – decide to reassert their power over the neighbouring villages in Gudamaqari Gorge. Traditionally, Chokhi has reigned supreme in the region, with Chokhian men enjoying the right to claim any women from the surrounding villages as their wives. When a Chokhian boy is turned down, his mother enlists the other villagers in a campaign to conquer the other villages. Along the way, the Chokhians document their progress and collect the worries, memories, folktales and philosophical musings of both their fellow conquerors and the villages they conquer.

Edited by Lia Chokoshvili; cover image is from the movie Human Sadness directed by Goderdzi Chokheli.