Temur Chkheidze, Theater Director


Guram Odisharia has an incredible ability to find and see what others overlook. He is in a constant state of creative pursuit.

The performance “…The Far Away Sea…”, which I staged based on a play by Guram Odisharia, is unusual. After some deliberations we came to a conclusion that staging it in a traditional, classical manner wouldn’t yield any artistic value. While trying to adapt for stage a global issue of great importance like the anomality of war and its incompatibility with the moral principles of the contemporary humanity; or wrestling with the task of conveying the author’s conviction, that no matter whether you have to deal with your own pains which make you suffer – or struggling with whatever is making your people feel bitter, or addressing something that is hurting the other people, which is currently opposing you, all those are equally wrong and heartbreaking, and then you realize that you have to find some new ways for your theatrical expression. This is the reason why the characters speak to the audience in Russian, Georgian, Abkhazian, and Megrelian.

This play is dear to me because it represents an alignment of Guram’s and my own ideas on core matters. You must have the courage to admit your mistakes. And try to look for the reasons of your failures in your own mistakes, and not just shift the blame onto others. This is the stance held by the author of the play and I wholeheartedly share it. It’s our common position.

Guram Odisharia is a remarkably honorable man. He is the kind of a person you can always rely on and trust. Holding the post of the Minister of Culture, he was intolerant to any moral compromise. After he resigned, he left behind a trail of integrity. This is why I am happy to call Guram my friend.

Guram Odisharia is a planetary thinker.  Let me refer to his allegoric image:

a stray dog wandering through Sukhumi ravaged by war is thinking: “Do humans believe this planet to be theirs alone?”

Our planet belongs to all living beings. And we must learn to love it. Learn to love humans. And never get tired of doing good things. Guram Odisharia’s entire oeuvre is dedicated to this cause.

Newspaper «Abkhazian Meridian»

 September. 2021

Cornelia Zetzsche, Literary critic and cultural journalist



Those who think the land where lemons bloom is only Goethe’s Italy have never heared of Sochumi, the coastal town of Abkhazia, a place with two faces, rich in myth and conflict. This white town on the “Red Riviera”, the lovely spa resort on the Black Sea into which the war broke in, is the setting for this double book, two novels about the face of the day and of life, and the nightly face of war, on the edge of Europe and at the same time central to Europe’s understanding of democracy, self-determination and peace.

Lemon scent, tangerine blossoms and the aura of beautiful women pervade Guram Odisharia’s Sokhumi. Palm trees line the waterfront of the city, the once perished Dioskuria – said to have been accommodating over seventy languages in the 6th century BC and founded, according to legend, by Castor and Pollux, not far from ancient Colchis, governed by changing rulers, from the Ottoman Empire to Russia and Georgia, multi-ethnic until the late 20th century, with Abkhazians, Georgians, Russians, Ukrainians, Greeks, Armenians and Jews. But what does the world know of all this? “The world knows nothing about us,” complains a character in Odisharia’s polyphonic novel, which, reflecting the diversity of society, is a love confession to Sokhumi, the author’s hometown, where rain does not drench people, but makes them grow.

In “The President’s Cat”, Odisharia bundles the life of his hero, Mikhail Temurovich alias Mikhail Bgashba – a real-life, dazzling, at least ambivalent figure – in a multitude of episodes: dissident and first secretary of the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia at the time of Khrushchev, with best contacts from Yuri Gagarin to Fidel Castro; a visionary and realpolitician, dreamer and pragmatist, charmer, ironist and patriot; a “man of the universe, not of comfort”; a cosmopolitan geneticist who, with his friend Soso, created the Sokhumi Citrange, who brought white buffalo semen from Vietnam, who researched the Abkhazian goat and the Abkhazian thrush, which, of course, sang more tunes than any other thrushes in the world. A romantic and philanthropist loved by Abkhazians and Georgians alike; who knew how to defuse conflicts before they escalated, even if it was through the supposedly direct line to Khrushchev, the dummy red telephone. And if all else failed, then with a sip of cognac or Abkhazian wine from the drinking horn, with a convincing toast and charmingly exaggerated lies; Someone who would rather negotiate in cafés and restaurants than in conference rooms, in short: Bgashba has a lot in common with the author, who assures 90 percent of the anecdotes are true in this picaresque novel, in which many narrators, many voices amalgamate.

Without straying into folklore, Guram Odisharia has mastered the high art of the profound chat. He tells of difficult times in such a light, cheerful, humorous, wise and picturesque way that life in the Soviet Union almost turns into an idyll. But the backcloth of peace is war. The Soviet Union was an authoritarian state, but those who remember it think of childhood, youth, first love, friends, says the Georgian. Thoughts of Sokhumi and everything he loved helped him to overcome depression as the region was on fire, and he fled, like so many, in September 1993. In this spiral of violence, “The President’s Cat” is meant to be a book of healing. And the red street cat, allegedly bred for John F. Kennedy, bears witness of the longing for America. Just don’t let the plummet sink too deep, they say, just don’t dive into melancholy, even if the mild, golden light of Sokhumi dwindles, on that August day that changes everything.

The war in Abkhazia begins on that dreamlike morning of August 14, 1992, and lasts until September 27, 1993. The war sneaks in, it creeps into the city, bereaving houses, towns and villages, turning neighbors, friends and relatives into enemies; it rages until the fear of life outstrips the fear of death and Mikhail Temurovich, aka Bgashba, follows his parrot into death. The serene melancholy, the lightness with which Guram Odisharia tells about it, makes the novel all the more weighty and haunting. Like an impressionist, he dabs tragic scenes on paper: the burning palm tree, the eucalyptus branch ripped off by a grenade, dragged home by a woman for heating because the city no longer has electricity, and it’s cold. Odisharia’s hero invokes the symbiosis in nature, but the residents of Sokhumi experience looting and violent expulsions during this period, traumata to this day. “All wars are one war,” it is said, because this isn’t just about a regional conflict, it’s about universal experiences. “People must defeat war,” says Guram Odisharia, knowing all along that reality is different.

At all times, the Caucasus has been mined land, and Abkhazia a contested terrain at the junction of East and West, on the periphery of Georgia and Europe, in immediate vicinity of Russia, not far from Georgia’s autonomous republics of South Ossetia and Adjara, and Russia’s republics of Chechnya and Dagestan. The Turks introduced tobacco cultivation, the Russians tea plantations. Georgia, regaining independence as a republic first time in 1918, reclaimed Abkhazia militarily. In 1921, the region became Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, a Mikhail Bgashba converted to Mikhail Temurovich, the country was Russified and later Reorganized in the 1930s under Stalin. Under international recognition, it fell to the young state of Georgia in 1991, until separatists conquered the area and declared Abkhazia’s independent statehood – contrary to all international treaties. The Georgian population – at that time the majority – fled towards Tbilisi. Guram Odisharia was one of them. Ten days on foot over the mountains, over high passes, alongside women, children and the elderly. He saw much death there, in this exodus of biblical proportions. The civilian population was crushed between militant groups on both sides.

Today Abkhazia is considered a “frozen conflict” under Russian control, with 9,000 soldiers stationed in the region. Russia speaks of “peacekeeping troops” and Georgia of “occupiers”. The problems of multinational states that arose with the collapse of the USSR remain unresolved.

In their novels, Guram Odisharia and Daur Nachkebia reflect the conflict dialectically; the Georgian in Tbilisi depicting the sunlit face of the day, subcutaneously and with subtle irony; the Abkhazian in Sokhumi existentialistically delving into the night, the sombre face of death. “Night, I’m standing on your shore”, the verse of a poem that a passer-by murmurs in the novel, is programmatic in its darkly poetic, mythical sound. Fog and rain pervade Sokhumi’s mood in this novel, pain, trauma, and yearning. Its hopeful ending is almost surprising.

Nachkebia’s first-person narrator, Beslan, came through alive in the war, but inside him everything is dead. “It’s not my fault that others didn’t come back – and still and still and still,” says Daur Nachkebia, paraphrasing Russia’s classicist, Alexander Twardowski. Beslan’s conscience won’t let him rest. His career as a physicist is long abandoned. His mother, full of shame and against his father’s will, sends him food parcels from the village. Beslan lives from one day into the next, traumatized as a soldier who has fought in the war, burdened with the guilt of the survivor, the Kalashnikov as a companion. A date keeps emerging in his account, March 6, a pivotal experience, only vaguely hinted at: on March 6, Daur Nachkebia’s brother fell as a soldier, right next to his home. This was one of the greatest horrors of this war, the parents saw their sons dying almost on their doorstep. In some families, two brothers fought on opposing fronts. Everyone was involved. “I’m fighting for both of us, you have to write about it,” this is the legacy in the letter from Daur Nachkebia’s brother that remained unsent.

The novel reflects violent expulsions, looting and marauding militias, a life on unsafe ground. In the library, in biographical footnotes, in the lives of others, Beslan thinks he can go on living. Especially in the life of Adgur, a friend who fought on another front, and threw himself into the arms of death; maybe because he could no longer tolerate the war and the violence against civilians; maybe because death seemed to him the last act of self-determination and freedom, who knows. Adgur left nothing behind but a blue notebook, his war diary, in which he, the poet, philosophizes about the meaning of life in a carousel of thoughts. An antipode to Beslan, the physicist and survivor who finally breaks loose from Adgur and decides to live on. Sartre, Nabokov, Camus, Böll are the godfathers for this metaphor-laden anti-war novel which asks existential questions and which Daur Nachkebia, despite everything, sees as a celebration of life.

The bleak monotony of Beslan’s everyday life and the philosophizing voice of Adgur’s diary are interspersed with images of humans from daily life, captivating portraits that fit together in a mosaic of society. There is Manta Satbeyevich, alias Mancha, police snitch and miserable squealer, searching in the archives of “Pravda” to find evidence of a conspiracy against the USSR; Macho, colorfully dressed up like a parrot, trying in vain to reach the country of his nightly dreams from a phone booth; the gambler Boroda strolls by, murmuring the Russian poem “Night, I’m standing on your shore”. Natela, the chess and backgammon player; Madina, the loved one, mentally and physically injured while working as a nurse. They are all part of a traumatized society, persisting in oppressive customs and traditions, in a false understanding of symbiotic friendship that tolerates no opposition.

Only in love there is still hope. And nature is a place of refuge, the tree an anchor, the murmur of the surf a comfort. In the river, Nachkebia’s Adgur feels at one with himself and with life. For Odisharia, too, landscapes are a refuge, animals his mentors, whether Bgashba’s parrot or his own dog, Daisy, a Dalmatian. The singing birds are the first to sense war and fly away. Just like “The President’s Cat”, animals stand for a world that is more beautiful and fair. Animals are the conscience of humans. They urge people to get better. They lead back to nature, to the cycle of the seasons, to the beauties of life. Guram Odisharia left Tbilisi, his second home, and all political offices behind and now lives in the country with animals.

To this day, the region and its people are marked by violence and displacement. Abkhazia lies in ruins. Houses, schools, kindergartens, institutes and archives have been destroyed and not rebuilt. Turbulences paralyze the political system. Abkhazia looks towards Russia, the Russian ruble is the second currency, Russian is the second language, and many Abkhazians have Russian passports. Daur Nachkebia, who writes in Russian and Abkhazian, sees society as polarized and more conservative than ever. There is a lack of educated thinkers, he says, demagogues have an easy time. He sees an “internal war” going on, and fears the Abkhazian language may gradually disappear. If Abkhazians forget their language, their myths, their fairy tales and dances, their cultural roots will die. Then Abkhazia will become a country without Abkhazians. The ongoing militarization gives little hope for real peace. Daur Nachkebia sums it up with dark humor: “We just have to try to survive until the Last Judgment,” he says, “and that won’t last much longer.”

The Abkhazian language doesn’t sugarcoat anything, their word for “war” means “to kill one another”. “Nobody gets out alive, the war changed everyone,” says Daur Nachkebia. He has fought himself, and he knows the mechanism of war. Once set in motion, it can no longer be stopped. “We saw ourselves in the mirror of war,” Guram Odisharia confirms. The war didn’t embitter him, but it taught him to love and hate people. “The war broke in like a monster, peace comes in baby steps,” says Odisharia.

They have been friends for 40 years and are now peace ambassadors: Daur Nachkebia, of Abkhazian origin, gave up being a physicist to become a poet and a writer, advancing from radio editor-in-chief to Minister of Education in Sokhumi. And Guram Odisharia, the Georgian from Sokhumi, historian, radio producer, writer and Minister of Culture and Monument protection in Tbilisi. Two friends who know that relationships between people are what counts most in the peace process.  They believe genetic memory outlasts war. For two years, they worked on an anthology with fellow writers from five Caucasus literatures: Abkhazian, Ossetian, Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijani: “Time of Life” was more than just a book. It brought together people from conflict areas, but also aroused critics who argued that such a project, across all borders, would imply recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia as sovereign states – reasonings reminiscent of German-German conflict lines between writers from the GDR and the FRG.

History often takes a surprising turn, a lesson that should be learned from the fall of the Berlin Wall. Nothing is set in stone, politicians just know nothing about dialogue, says Guram Odischaria, former Minister of Culture from 2012 to 2014. He relies on people’s diplomacy, a new way of thinking that recognizes the interests of the other side, apt to relax hardened positions and explore commonalities. The double novel demonstrates this convincingly. And Daur Nachkebia adds: Abkhazians and Mingrelians[1] are alike in many ways, mixed marriages are common again, and life, God’s gift, is more important than any politics.

“The President’s Cat” and “Night, I’m standing on your shore”, this double book with two novels by Daur Nachkebia from Sokhumi and Guram Odisharia, fled to Tbilisi, is another courageous, unswerving attempt to set a mark, to expose the deeply human, to mitigate suspicion, to build up trust, to find common ground between the parties and ideologically hardened fronts on the Black Sea, just across from Ovid’s coast.

Thanks are due to the translators Katja Wolters and Lydia Nagel who found such a wonderful German interpretation for Odischaria’s lightness and Nachkebia’s allegorical affluence. They guide us into a world that is only seemingly alien.

February. 2022

Ivane Amirkhanashvili, Writer, Critic, The editor in chief of the Newspaper

“Literary Georgia” (Georgia)

A Humanist – with the Principle of Heart

At first sight, he stands aside, – isolated on his island, though at the same time he has so much in common with all of us, he is so ours, you can’t imagine yourself without him, his attitude and ideas.

You feel that he is a part of something complete, indivisible, unbreakable wholeness and this something is, by all means, his kindness – a virtue by the Nature.

He speaks, writes, acts, lives following the principle of his heart, that is why it is so easy to doubt him, get angry, accuse, be at war with him; meanwhile he is taking it so easy, accepting the injustice, because he knows well where he stands, what he does, what he is counting on. He has many adversaries, though he does not fall in antagonism – neither with his own self, nor with those people, who do not want him to be so kind a man, while he really is one.

He is consistent.

He is conciliatory, but at the same time he can fight, strategize, tacticize and walk the paths of victory too.

Being the descendant of a famous military kin, he can’t be easily intimidated by any militaristic peril or foolish menace.

Guram Odisharia – a poet, prosaist, publicist, public figure, the author of renowned novels: “The Ocean of the Black Sea”, “The President’s Cat”, “the Bomb with Eyeglasses”, ‘WithYouWithoutYou”, “Back to Sokhumi”.

Reading his novels one can grasp, what kind of a city Sokhumi was at its best, and what kind of a city it could have been if Georgia had another Guram Odisharia – an utterly humane, warm, meaningful, romantic and peaceful city, an indisputable pearl of our coastline, where there is no hostility, disseverance, and conflict; though, as a matter of fact, there is only one of the kind and there never can be two.

He is the man, who can transform the hatred into love, hostility into cooperation and fury into calmness.

Back in his day he walked up the the Sakeni-Chubery hellish mountain road and that is why he is a step ahead of us in his apprehension of the beautiful essence of Humanity.

Down “the Refugees’ Pass’ he showed us the imminence of Life, the irreversibility of Peace.

Many people perceive him as a moderator standing between Georgians and Abkhazians, but as a matter of fact, he is not between but standing in his place connecting in himself and his creed the both sides, speaking now and ever the language of Peace and Loyalty, as in the time bygone when all of us lived together in Sokhumi.

03 December. 2021

Salome Kapanadze, Associate Professor at Grigol Robakidze University


Guram Odisharia has his own special vison of that specific locale of time, which he used as the title of his novel. This vison goes beyond the national boarders, it is transnational, and the world may use it in the time of a crisis, when “the hell and the heaven unite and everything what started on the earth, will eventually end on the earth”. The novel is flying us away on its airplane of romantic memories to the place where there lingers our most sacral past, its storyline with its featured documentary reality is taking us back to our spiritual abode.

Guram Odisharia was the first who dared to remind the public, mine-studded with the pain and fury of the Abkhazian war, that it had to undergo a spiritual catharsis. And ever since we are feeding on Guram Odisharia’s novels like we once did in ‘’The Rain of Sukhumi’’.

In the meantime, we are always expecting a missionary dedication from the author, since the main concepts developing in his stories eventually boil down to “the peace among men”. These literary texts represent the refined didactics of the culture of peace, built on the writer’s personal experience. “The other god understood me and made me understand too that there are no other gods” – says the violinist, the main character of the novel, who features the writer himself – with relaxedness typical of the seaside cities, with their flamboyant figures and true Sukhumian memories colourized by love. This colourful deja vu mixed with the odours of the sea, acts on our vital energy like a psalm, because Guram Odisharia’s novels every time bring you to your past, that you once departed from as a “cityless” person. Guram Odisharia doesn’t betray his usual style, you may feel how your mind liberates from the threats of a false victory being filled with a great sensation of bringing unity to Georgia that is split into two opposing sides like “Big-Endians and Little-Endians”, if you would. It makes you plunge so mindlessly into the depths of the novel penetrated with subtle passages of love, eroticism, and humour, that tearing yourself away from it just for a minute makes you feel uneasy, like losing sight of the city that once was an artefact of love for you. Though you know well that you can get back to the novel as many times as you like, the tasteful design of the book catches your eye on the bookshelves urging you look for Guram Odisharia’s next novel that is full of the necessity of love, mutual understanding, and magnanimity, imprinted in a reader’s memory with its outstanding sea aesthetics. The sea is an unchangeable main character of Guram Odisharia’s artistic landscape and historic memory.

“WithYouWithoutYou” is just another attempt of Guram Odisharia to restore our peace of mind and broken connections. He is the creator of ideal spiritual necessities, and this is the reason why his novels are so successful in Georgia and overseas. I am quite confident, that this novel too has its path already chalked out. 

Arda Inal Ipa, Psychologist, professor of Abkhazian University of Zurab Anchabadze


I can tell you with all my confidence that people like Guram Odisharia are rare in any society. And not just because of his writing skills. Never reducing to populism, being able to go upstream without any undue melodramatism, Guram Odisharia achieved great triumphs – respect and recognition not only in his country but far beyond. Guram calmly and consistently follows his principles and upholds what he believes is fair and true – first of all it is his unconditional allegiance to peace and confidence in the power of culture, the culture which can save the world.

Dear Guram, you have many great achievements and wonderful books ahead, the books sharing their wisdom and teaching the people how to be strong, kind and fair. Please accept my sincere wishes of good health, longevity and productive creative activity!

Ivan Riabchyi, Writer, Translator


To reconcile through art: is such a thing possible? Could a book (or indeed, any work of art) serve as an accumulator or a reorganizer of the problem? As, say, Anthony Doerr’s novel All the Light We Cannot See, in which the fates of a German boy and a French girl are woven together, and they, be it alone or together (though either way it is inevitably a tragic experience), are forced to live through the devastation of World War II; Or as Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt’s novella Beauceron, in which a Jewish man, survivor of the concentration camps, receives a symbolic apology from a French nobleman who had turned him in during the war; Or as Pierre Lemaitre’s novel See You Up There, an epic that draws a line under the main conclusions of World War I, the key conflict of the twentieth century for Europeans…

 Perhaps such works of art can only be produced after the tragedy, from a certain temporal, personal, or moral distance.

However, at times, attempts to find a compromise in the course of the conflict appear in the form of metaphorical texts, such as Guram Odisharia’s novella Rain Expected in Sukhumi. This is a work of prose that reads as narrative poetry, an ode to a beautiful city on the Black Sea coast, to the lost city, the city of dreams and ghosts…

In Soviet times, Sukhumi was one of the most popular resorts, but the conflicts of the early 1990s, and later the 2008 Russian-Georgian war severely wounded and depleted the city of Dioscuri, which is what Guram Odisharia writes about.

The author spent most of his life, “about four thousand rains”, in his beloved city; after all, “rain can help estimate an individual’s age”. “And now, God only knows how many rains, how many lives still lie ahead”. Using the metaphor of rain, Guram Odisharia is trying to wash away the tragedies that have haunted his native Sukhumi – the ancient Greek city of Dioscurias – for more than a quarter of a century. The same tragedies forced him – an intellectual – to become a refugee, and live in Tbilisi, where he has made a brilliant career, and has found himself far enough removed from home to turn the real city into a personal myth.

It is indeed a myth. Rain Expected in Sukhumi reads as an epic poem similar to the Odyssey. This work by Homer has recently gained great popularity among contemporary authors. Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt uses it in one of his first novels Ulysse from Baghdad. It appears the world is returning to an era of staggering wars and heroism and seeks to reimagine itself with a weapon in hand.

The book of prophet Isaiah states: “I make light and create darkness. I make blessings and create disasters. I, the Lord, do all these things”. For Odisharia, Sukhumi was the embodiment of peace, of blessings. This is evident in his poetic collection. It contains lyrical, at times sublime, at times somber works, brimming with the sea, the birds, the rains, and the trees. These texts written before the Abkhaz-Georgian conflict in the early 1990s, coupled with the stories included in the collection Rain Expected in Sukhumi, written after the war, create a surprising effect of the absence of war. It is gone. It has drowned in silence, in the murmuring rain, which should be – and must be – followed by the sprouting of something new, fresh, and good. Before and after the war, which after all, is also made by God.

This is the life we live now – life in war – as we await the revivifying rain of peace…

 December 14. 2015

Nino Sadgobelashvili, Poet, Writer, Playwright


Freedom is a gift from the sea

Let’s imagine that there exists a Black Sea Republic and you are a citizen in it. It would mean being a citizen of the most peaceful, pacifist republic, with its parliament – housed in a large coffee shop; its working days being enjoyable like holidays; no capital city (in order not to make other cities jealous), just the Centre – all of the Black Sea Coast; no fixed boundaries, just fuzzy-blurry contours, not to provoke some militaristic country to discover these boarders and then harass them; it would mean a small country  with big and exquisite diplomacy; a republic of hundreds  of music bands, orchestras, ensembles and choirs; with two beaches – one for those countries who recognize  the Black Sea Republic and the other for those, who do not recognize it.

One can become a citizen of the Black Sea Republic –just read Guram Odisharia’s new novel “Withyouwithoutyou”; take part in a cheerful and witty conversation with its characters, together you can come up with a concept of a new republic, and if you try hard, you can also share its ideas… It is not a kind of an altruistic – literary game, or a humanistic simulation, it is a hale and hearty adventure born in the calamities of war, a way of survival, which may be revealed only to a writer who knows the sea the best… Guram Odisharia is that writer. The Sea is a providential topos defining his creative domain, style, and atmosphere. Everythere in his works the Sea is exactly that “fuzzy-blurry contour” (“WithYouWithoutYou“), or more precisely – a boundless line, touching which can spontaneously transform the nature of things, bring in a new reality, a code of presence in this reality.

“WithYouWithoutYou” has been recently published by the “Intellect” publishing house. The novel is a kind of protraction of the continuous artistic reflection, mentioned above, which makes the Guram Odisharia’s prose stand out from all other authors. This is the anatomy of war – with scrupulous nuances, horrific paradoxes, extreme love and hatred. He goes down to the lowest depths offering not just his narrative artistically remodeled, but sharing the reality endorsed by experiencing and living it through himself, a kind of an autobiographical horror, which reads easily, spontaneously and “humanwise”, despite its shocking dramatism…

That accent – the lightness of narrative and sensation – most clearly feels in his new novel, and although this book is pre- and post-history of war, (full of relevant tough stories and untamed sorrows), it’s hard to call it a novel about the war, should we still have to add any banal specificity, let’s call it a love novel. Love – in its most heavenly, idealistic sense.

Zaza, the main character, lives in a seaside city; a violinist, who used to play in a Sukhumi tourist camp jazz band. “Frantz”, that’s how he calls his violin, a present from his father who got it in exchange for his Belgian hunting gun, alluding to a legendary footballer, Frantz Beckenbauer. Zaza is a typical seasider – “a citizen of the Black Sea Republic” – who is free and noble, moderately reclusive, having a bunch of stories in stock and slightly ironizing (sometimes self-ironizing too); he treats life the same way as other seasiders treat the Sea…

The violinist has friends, during the war some of them ended up on “the other side”, his past and present tend to be interdependent, though estranged as formerly loving brothers presently being at odds, the hollowness emerging between them has a different sounding and Zaza is learning to listen to its music, and above all – he has countless love affairs, so exciting, bizarre, charming and a little bit vulgar that it is hard to tell one from another, some of them are accompanied with a long story, others can be told by one word, and there is one among them, that only one, which absorbs all others and  drives the violinist into an illusion of immortality.  Bella, Irine, Dali, Samantha, Kathrine, Selma, Lana… that’s a sad and exquisite herbarium of stories, where the reader can start a small game – which of the women is the loveliest? Or the most intriguing, or a femme-fatal? Though for the author the game is not an end in itself. The herbarium is just a tool helping him to tell another story. Not a particular woman or a man is catching his eye, but generally – a human in and outside the war, a human in exile, seeking for freedom, fighting for survival. And among this expressive dynamics he is relying on love to be his guide. What love can do in the most dramatic situation or what is left of it when people turn into scum stripped of any clue and guidance bestowed on us as humans? What makes the housewife in the middle of the war, to take a mop and start cleaning the corridor, what’s the motivation behind this action, which looks so weird at a glance?! Welcome the ‘’enemy ‘’ into a clean house, or God forbid someone calls her squalid? Or, maybe it’s just her habit and she is hoping to be back asap and find her house tidy?.. Perhaps it’s all of these together and the most important in this woman (a collective “woman”, who had to leave her house, city, village during the war) is that her main instinct is still love and not hatred, the love which is driving her into a new blurry reality leaving us with a bit of hope, a bit of faith, and generally making us able to think about the future.

The anatomy of war presents the sensation of homeland through the prism of a different diagnosis. The homeland itself is shown as a nebulous, conditional concept in blood-stained existential silhouettes. The violinist having fled Sokhumi through the mountain pass utters a phrase: “my homeland hid itself from me… it has gone somewhere…” the tragedy of the situation feels not just in euphoria of the mountain pass episode, it’s the writer’s thinking bred in the flesh and bone, the global bitterness, if you like, vividly resonating even in the postwar years, tarnishing all nuances of life with its dense experiences. The tragicomical ‘Homeland running away and hiding’ plays out long after the war – in the capital city, on the night of flooding, forcing the animals escape the Zoo, which is destroyed by the disaster, and the whole country as one vehemently hunts them, because they are dangerous for the Public… as a matter of fact, the June 2015 tragedy which took place in Tbilisi – the Flood – has been looked at for the first time from this angle (in the context of all post-soviet dramatic developments) in reflections of our prose and presented in an interesting highlight: As if some  sacral – biblical – mythical performance was played out – a story of a fighter country / people, whose homeland ran away and them ran away from their homeland.

Seeing and feeling causal metaphors is possible through love. A human dipped into the energy of love is transparent and able to see, comprehend, a conductor of the knowledge of transience and eternity.  Such is the main character of the novel, the objects of his love, like one of the novel’s distinctive characters – Sanich – a chevalier of fortune, a joyful guy, an explorer of somewhat personal philosophy and its disseminator, the philosophy, proclaimed in the seaside city, which belongs to that place. That’s why after the bitterness of the war and exile, Sanich’s doctrine sounds contextless and odd, like Sanich himself, and all those philosophers – obsessed by pursuit of the purpose of the world and thus being constantly persecuted by the collective society…

“WithYouWithoutYou” is a book of Freedom too, since there is no Love without Freedom. Especially if its boundary is the sea, i. e. it is boundless. You can catch this Freedom even if you are a refugee, just give it your thought and heart. If you manage to start the Republic of the Black Sea in your thought and heart, being its law-abiding citizen and aware that one day, when there will be only earth left of you, and the Freedom and Love, dwelling in your thought and heart, will bring back your homeland to those, who need it most of all.


Foreword to the Estonian Edition of the Novel The President’s Cat by Guram Odisharia

„Our whole life is a conspiracy against newborns…

 The President’s Cat is the first book of the Georgian poet and novelist Guram Odisharia published in Estonian.

Estonians have a special relationship with the blessed land of Abkhazia, where the author was fortunate to be born and where the plot of the book takes place. This region became a second homeland for our courageous compatriots, Estonians who left their ancestral home a hundred and fifty years ago and set off into uncharted territories in search of a better life. They found their little piece of paradise at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains, in the Valley of Abundance, where citrus orchards are drenched in sunlight and washed with warm rain. For a hundred and fifty years, the Estonian language has been blending into the harmonious Caucasian chorus, and might have even been used from time to time by tamadas (toastmasters) leading traditional feasts…      

Let us imagine the residents of Sukhumi gathered around a set table, proposing toasts and praising all that is most glorious in life. Here, no topic is excluded, no matter how big or small. Over a glass of their favorite, Isabella wine, they share memories of the protagonist of the book, „Mikhailtemurovich“ Bgazhba, who left an indelible mark on the minds of his contemporaries.

The book The President’s Cat hardly fits into the conventional framework of modern literary genres. It is rather an avant-garde work, free of all stereotypes. It is a book of toasts, a book of memories, a book of laughter and pain.

The author grants unlimited freedom to the reader’s imagination. The book is very cinematic: behind the visuality of action, and the polyphony of imagery, one can discern the author’s meticulous forethought. The reader works together with the author on the montage process, and creates picturesque scenes that coalesce into a story of high artistic merit.

 In some chapters of the book narrators take the lead, briefly introduce themselves, and tell the story in first person. Each of them knows the protagonist personally. This closeness allows readers to believe all of these paradoxical narratives, and become direct participants in the vivid life stories they recount.

 Only the Tamada of the table is always the same person, whose destiny and charisma correspond with his time. His toasts are wise and concise, universal in content and full of zest for life.

  His hymns praise eternal values: the harmony of nature, the beauty of women, and the wisdom of the universal order. Nothing escapes his attention: neither the ancient Greek gods who carried out their exploits here in Colchis, nor the donkey that ended up falling off a cliff.

A vibrant personality manifests itself in all affairs: whether it be the desire to build up the native land and populate it with joyous people, or the search for common ancestral roots… of all the peoples inhabiting the bustling Caucasus.

 Abkhazia: the nearest subtropics for us. From the pages of school textbooks, we are familiar with its legendary bamboo grove that opened up the world of flora of the Sukhumi Botanical Garden to us. From the very first lines, the author takes us into the realm of flowering Araucaria, so we can feel its intoxicating aroma, hear the birds singing, and make sure to consider (!) the reason for their exquisite expression. And, we readily agree with the Author that the reason behind this all is the generous disposition of the Creator, who, at the moment of creation, granted Abkhazia the best land on Earth.

Following the author’s intention, the reader is kept intrigued as to how the President’s Cat fits into the story. In the first half of the novel there is no mention of the Cat. And it appears only when the vision of universal welfare is abruptly replaced by the harsh reality of life.

 A mother who lost her only son in a drunken brawl is left alone with her eternal grief. Her inconsolable loneliness is eased by a half-feral cat, gifted to her by the Protagonist. The ginger stray cat appears in the story every time the Author sets himself a task of highlighting the simple and humane contribution of the leader of the republic to the fates of his fellow citizens. Even lying is justified to distract the wretched woman from her grief. The stray cat, with a fictitious pedigree of being a former pet of the President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, reads with us stories from the “thawed out” 1960s to the tragic 1990s.

This is the kind of book that might lie on the table until it is pulled from under a pile of paperwork or it might rest on the bedside table, waiting for an evening meeting with its owner. When the day is over and our expectations remain unmet, we can open The President’s Cat and read the chapter that tells the story of the naive fish that misinforms its gullible kin about the hospitality of humans, of fishermen. 

 The President’s Cat is unique in many ways, as it tells the story of a region that has fallen victim to the political games of modern times. The armed conflict has changed the color of the region from green to “khaki”. The greater the joy of meeting the sunny Sukhumi and its inhabitants, the more monstrous the images of war, sparingly and precisely described by the author, appear. The talking parrot that dies of heart rupture during the bombing. The aquarium fish that surface upside down during the artillery attack. The neighbor who raises his wine horn above his head before being hit by a shell is painfully reminiscent of the Statue of Liberty, for the dubious glow of the torch of which an entire generation was irrevocably lost… 

The Protagonist of the book also passes away under the exploding shells. Fate had granted him great influence.  He was a dreamer who spent his entire life building a Land of Virtue and Justice. He did not survive the monstrous desecration of his brainchild by war. The Protagonist departs forgotten and alone, wrapped in a burka – felt cloak, traditional clothing of Caucasian highlander shepherds and warriors…

 Guram Odisharia has made an attempt to restore the past to tell us the story of Abkhazia, that is exotic to some and so familiar to others. For twelve years he had been eager to recount how this little piece of paradise was ravaged by greed, ignorance, and cruelty. The author has shed the light on the events preceding the collapse of the vast empire that crumbled under the weight of its ideology.

Examining war from the standpoint of peace only strengthens the passion and zest for life.

Prose works “from zones of armed conflicts” are rarely published in Estonia. Thus, the release of Guram Odisharia’s book is exceptionally important. The author helps readers engage in dialogue with those who ended up on the opposite side of the front line. It is his mission to truthfully tell the story of his country…

And his books are being actively translated into different languages: German, Slovak, Russian, English, Turkish, Chinese, Ukrainian, Czech, Hungarian, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Dutch, and even Abkhazian…

We are pleased to present to the readers the Estonian translation of The President’s Cat and to share with You the secrets of Caucasian longevity, humor and optimism. May everyone who opens this book find a story close to their heart, try to unravel the symbols and metaphors, and, perhaps, fill up their supply of toasts and anecdotes.

Happy reading.

                 „The more beautiful our country, the uglier the wars tearing its body apart“

                                                             An urban saying in Sukhumi


Ludmila Bejenaru, Translator, Professor of Philology


Today, in the Abkhazian society, when people talk about moral values, the foundations of the traditional culture, and the best human qualities, they use the word Apsuara. Apsuara encompasses the traits of an ideal person: honor and conscience, nobility and gallantry, courage and humanity, hospitality and respect for elders, modesty, and patience.

In the works of the Georgian writer Guram Odisharia, “one of the most tolerant people” (according to the surveys conducted by the Multi-Ethnic Resource Centre on Civic Education Development), the principles of Apsuara – of being Abkhazian – carry a quite concrete moral, cultural, ethnic and ethical meaning, since at their core lies not enmity, but love for one’s neighbor.

 The search for new perspectives that open new horizons and contribute to the process of rebuilding and developing relationships between people, encourages tolerance and intercultural communication, and promotes the involvement of the youth in efforts against hatred and violence.

Guram Odisharia’s love for Abkhazia can be felt in his work. He equates the natives of his city with the natives of the whole Abkhazia, although he also creates a special type of identity – Sukhumian identity – “Sukhumians”.

“Sukhumians have always been idiosyncratic. Our relationships were distinctive and warm, as the Sea. Seaside cities resemble women, they are immensely beautiful.”

On the face of it, these are simple stories reflecting the lives of seemingly familiar characters, their habitual being, reality and everyday life of the Abkhazian land, but in the meantime these stories also describe how a man of nomenklatura maintained his humanity, or how beautiful Sukhumi is at any time of year, or how the Black Sea nearly turned into an ocean…  This is, above all, an abundance of traumatic experiences and the belated nature of their realization, a historical memory in the modern Abkhaz-Georgian context and the understanding of the fact that war will never triumph over peace, because war inevitably means enormous and all-consuming pain. And so Odisharia does not view history from the standpoint of its victims or victors (could there ever be any?). By granting voice to both, he creates a multifaceted statement that is poignant and painful, that stirs up the passions of memory and forces us to relate the experiences of the past to the reality of the present.

As he reflects on the history of the country in his books, Guram Odisharia the writer attempts to bridge the past and the present, paving (or at least outlining) the way to a future that must follow the principles of humanity, benevolence, compassion and generosity, preserving the memory of generations and maintaining a moral core. Be it new or as old as time, these are the components of Guram Odisharia’s Apsuara, over which the readers will find themselves pondering together with the novelist, whose individual voice sounds brighter than Vox Collectiva.

Newspaper «Abkhazian Meridian»

 September. 2021

Zaza Abzianidze, Writer, Literary critic, Professor


Guram Odisharia began his creative life as a poet (in Sukhumi!) and only later he switched to prose. But, as a matter of fact, a very strange thing happened: he stayed a poet in his new genre and the single throbbing string, which, apparently, followed him all the way through from his sunshiny childhood – his somewhat unaccountable predisposition to kindness, trust to those around him, benevolence, and compassion – became the true north of his prose… Moreover, there is something rare in his new novel, “those around him” are not only people: there are animals and plants too, which are perceived not just as a background, being full-fledged living participants, with their merry or sad histories, interwoven with each other.

At first glance, “WithYouWithoutYou” is a tale of love adventures of a young handsome violinist from Sukhumi. Though its storyline is taking the readers beyond its pastoral decorations and “Casanovian” scenes making them see the first ominous clouds, the chill of the total loneliness of a once carefree lover and the bloodcurdling scenes of the Abkhazian war…

The finale is an “alchemical mixture” of Guram Odisharia’s writing skills and his humanistic nature: he tells us a story of a man, who found a woman of his life, his “Eve”, but could not keep her, the heavenly gift bestowed on him; Likewise – the writer describes what had happened to the people, who lived side by side in an earthly heaven, married and befriended each other, but exactly like Zaza the violinist, could not keep their common existence up and lost their paradize…

That is why, though it is fun to read “WithYouWithoutYou” but at the same time it makes you cry. Like in most of his prosaic works Guram Odisharia heartbreakingly tells us about the yester tragic episodes, which today are perceived almost like a history, carefully, hand in hand leading us through his “Mountain pass”, to let us have a better look from its height and understand the deepest and hardest reasons of our “phantom pains”.

Archil Javakhadze, Writer, Translator


I have been living in the Netherlands since the first half of the 1990s. At the time, there were only a few people here who knew or had heard about Georgia.

I set myself the goal of acquainting the Dutch-speaking inhabitants of the Netherlands and Belgium with Georgian history and culture. The first step towards this goal was K. Gamsakhurdia’s historical novel “The Right Hand of the Great Master.” And so, I started translating Georgian literature into Dutch.

When I became acquainted with Guram Odisharia’s new novel “The President’s Cat,” I gladly took up the translation of this magnificent work. The novel dealt with the theme of Abkhazia in the second half of the 20th century and had already been translated into sixteen languages.

From the very first words, the reader steps into the story, captivated by the warmth of the human relationships and the beauty of nature, the bright sun, and the refreshing sea air. The bustling, multinational life of the fabulously beautiful Sukhumi and all of Abkhazia immediately captures the reader.

In the book, Guram Odisharia describes piquant stories from Abkhazia in the latter half of the 20th century, the exotic environment of the coast, and the local life with his peculiar poetic language and humor.

But in contrast to the idyllic setting, Mikhail Timurovich Bgazhba, dies during a fierce ethno-political conflict in Abkhazia, unable to outlast the cruelty of the war, the conflict between Georgians and Abkhazians, which claimed the lives of his friends, relatives, and neighbors from both sides.

The Dutch translation of this work was first published in 2017.

Most importantly, the novel has also been translated into Abkhaz and is read with equal interest by the people groups divided by this terrible conflict. In this way, the book has come to be a literary bridge between Georgians and Abkhazians.

Working and communicating with Guram Odisharia is pure satisfaction and joy. He is an extraordinary person and, apparently, resembles the kind heroes of his stories. It is my deep conviction that if there were more people like Guram Odisharia there would be no more wars and ethnic conflicts on earth.

The “Abkhaz Meridian” Newspaper

 September. 2021

Valery Kupka, Poet, Translator


I remember how, while I was attending the “Dreams of Georgia” festival in Tbilisi in 2011, after readings at the Griboedov Theater, Guram Odisharia gifted me his book “The President’s Cat.” This was for me a little exotic, sunny-sad novel, cheerful, like playful sea waves, and, in its subtext, sad, like mountains that have just woken up in gloomy weather. I read it with great pleasure. “The President’s Cat” was translated into Slovak by my wife, Ivana, under the title “Prezidentov kocúr.” After a long gap in new translations (Nodar Dumbadze’s “A Kind Voice” was the last Georgian work translated into Slovak, 1987), this book became a pioneer Georgian work that reached the Slovak readers in the new post-Soviet era. And I am very glad that its kind voice was heard in Slovakia in not-so-good times. Many thanks to its author, dear Guram, for reminding us of the light and the good, when everyone else tends to remember only evil, hatred, and discord.       

 The “Abkhaz Meridian” Newspaper

 September. 2021

Gagik Davtyan, Poet, Translator (Armenia)

It seems like only yesterday that I received your heart-wrenching letter from Sukhumi. In the first place, it touched my heart because you were speaking about the tragedy that befell my people during the Spitak earthquake, and second, it was moving because we did not even know each other. Or rather, you knew that I translated into Armenian and had published some of your poems, but nothing more. And so, I received your unexpected letter dated December 15, 1988.

In your letter, you wrote me that I was the first person who came to your mind when you learned of the grief of my people. You wrote that when my tears are shed, yours are shed too.

In your letter, you invited me and my family to visit your native Sukhumi and experience the aftermath of a natural disaster unprecedented in the history of Armenia.

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then.

And if not now, when else should I mention that ever since you have had a permanent residence in the four anthologies of Georgian poetry that I have published?

When else should I say that among over the thirty authors included in these anthologies, your words stand out with surprisingly extravagant figurativeness, unexpected turns in the poetic perception of the world, and with such purity and immediacy of feelings and thoughts that is only characteristic of children…?

When else should I say that the Armenian translation of your collection “From Unsent Letters” is one of the handbooks for Armenian aesthetes, that you are one of the welcome guests of Armenian webpages, that reviews are written about your book?

The “Abkhaz Meridian” Newspaper

 September. 2021

From the Editorial in the “Abkhaz Meridian” Newspaper (Georgia)

From heart to heart, building a bridge. We believe this spacious phrase conveys the essence of Guram Odisharia’s work, his life purpose.

One of the brightest and most talented representatives of modern Georgian literature, Odisharia transformed his works into an anthology of love.

Of a love passionate, bitter, all-conquering, of love for a human being.

September. 2021

Eyyub Qiyas, Writer, Translator (Azerbaijan)

I have quite a few reasons for believing that Guram Odisharia is one of the most interesting prose authors in the 21st century. Over the past twenty years, I have translated and edited numerous books from around the world, including my dear friend Guram Odisharia’s novel “The President’s Cat.”

Guram Odisharia can masterfully convey the heartbeat of his characters, the rhythm of the blood flowing through the veins, and even the rate of breathing. Mikhail Timurovich, the protagonist of the novel “The President’s Cat,” is too great for me as a character. I could compare him to Colonel Aureliano Buendia, who is waiting to be shot in Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” while Sukhumi reminds me of Macondo. Guram wrote about the war, but he wrote in a unique way. Guram’s hatred and anger for the war unfolds against the backdrop of the tragedy of his deep love for people, and these people are themselves full of love. This makes the novel more readable. I am one of the first translators of the novel “The President’s Cat” into a foreign language, and it is no coincidence that this work was reprinted twice in Azerbaijan. The readers instantly liked the work itself and, of course, the author is respected and loved by us.

I think of Tbilisi as my hometown, with its historical monuments and kind people. I have many friends in Georgia. Guram Odisharia’s family members and relatives are my relatives too, and I thank these people for taking care of Guram, relieving him of all worries, and creating favorable conditions for him to write his wonderful works. Over time, everything in the world changes, collapses, falls into obscurity, but love and words live forever. I am confident that Guram’s novel will stand the test of time.

The “Abkhaz Meridian” Newspaper

 September. 2021

Vitaly Sharia, Abkhaz Writer, Journalist (Sukhumi)

I remember how, at the turn of the century (of course, of the Georgian-Abkhaz war), the Writers’ Union of Abkhazia held our regular meeting. We, several people from the Russian section, usually discussed new works written either by one of us, or our acquaintances. This time we reviewed one of Guram Odisharia’s books. The author, personally known to most of us before the Georgian-Abkhaz war, was already residing and working in Tbilisi for obvious reasons. As usual, the meeting became a stage for different opinions and even disputes, but everyone was united around the following. Yes, he and I have different perspectives on the pre-history and ethno-political aspects of this war, as well as on the path of resolving the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict. Perhaps it couldn’t be otherwise.  But two things are unquestionable – his great literary talent and his desire to see in people of any nationality, above all, brightness, and kindness.

Take a Russian translation of Guram Odisharia’s small collection of stories “The Nephew.”  In these stories, despite all the horrors and bitterness of the Georgian-Abkhaz war, the protagonists – Abkhazians and Georgians – invariably exhibit nobility, generosity, and humanity. Some might say that such an approach is sugarcoating life, idealizing human nature. But, in my opinion, this is by no means sugarcoating, but simply the moral perspective from which the writer views life. By the way, detailed themes and episodes from Odisharia’s stories are based on actual events of the Georgia-Abkhaz war.

Alas, many people, due to our human way of thinking, tend to attribute the best qualities exclusively to their own people, and the worst to those who are currently opposing them. As Arthur Schopenhauer once said: “The poor man, having nothing he could be proud of, grabs the only possible and is proud of the nation to which he belongs.”

This tendency was also echoed in some “literary works,” if they may be termed so. After the war, two stories with the same wandering plot, published in Tbilisi and Sukhumi by novice authors, caught my eye. The plot was primitive, and incited ethnic division. Both texts described how, on New Year’s Eve 1993, two former friends fighting against each other on the Gumista front somehow agreed to meet in the “no man’s land” and have a drink. And when they had already said their goodbyes and left each other, the Abkhaz (in the Georgian version of this opus) and the Georgian (in the Abkhazian version) shoots the other man in the back, the man he had just spent a peaceful New Year’s evening with.

In the early days of “Echo of the Caucasus” radio broadcast, on the evening of the New Year’s Eve, 2010, the editors organized a radio bridge with the representatives of Sukhumi, Tskhinvali, and Tbilisi. And it so happened that Guram Odisharia and I were both participating in it. I spoke about these two separate manifestations of the same poverty of thinking, similar to the one that Schopenhauer wrote about. I wanted to emphasize that people and peoples will not learn to understand each other until such “wandering plots” vanish from societies. Guram, continuing the conversation, noted that this plot was absolutely invented, and invented by narrow-minded people.

Guram himself seems to me the antipode of people with such thinking. A writer who continues the great tradition of evoking good feelings with a lyre.

The “Abkhaz Meridian” Newspaper

 September. 2021

Daur Nachkebia, Abkhaz Writer (Sukhumi)

I first met Guram Odisharia back in 1985, when we both worked as literary consultants in the Writers’ Union of Abkhazia.

We became friends then and have maintained that friendship to this day.

Guram attracted those around him, first and foremost, for his sincerity, benevolence, gentleness, his gift of storytelling, sense of humor, and subtle powers of observation, which helped him immediately catch the humor in a person and his situation; and all this was presented without malice or condescendingly. He never showed the slightest hint of arrogance toward human weaknesses. I would even say – Guram admired his heroes; no matter how ridiculous they may sometimes seem, he felt sorry for them, he loved them. All this inevitably destined Odisharia to become an excellent prose writer. In his stories and novels, he remained true to his human nature: a person must be pitied and loved. (There is a prevailing opinion that pity degrades a person. To me, there is no love without pity; pity is as great a feeling as love).

With all the gentleness and kindness, Guram never betrays his moral principles. In our Caucasian societies, politeness, smilingness, and tolerance are often perceived as signs of weakness, while brutality and maintaining a strict silence with a stone face are much more valued. But, in my opinion, these manifestations of a “strong personality,” in fact expose a weak, insecure nature. I have repeatedly witnessed the firmness with which Guram defends his honest and worthy positions – in these cases, nothing can shake him.

Guram took the Georgian-Abkhaz war of 1992-1993 as a personal tragedy. From the first day of the war, he kept talking about peace, about the need to stop killing each other, about the need to resolve existing problems between the two peoples only at the negotiating table.

Guram remains such a peacemaker to this day. Guram and I participated in public diplomacy meetings many times.

These meetings are so much more than just another baby step in the quest to guide the Georgian-Abkhaz confrontation in a peaceful direction. No, they have a broader impact: this is our contribution to the common treasury of the world movement of the best minds and hearts to humanize states, to remove from their vocabulary, from their actions, from their relations, the language of force, the language of violence.

The war between Georgians and Abkhazians was no exception to the course of human conflicts.  There were heroic, noble actions, not everyone lost their sense of humanity, but many atrocities were committed – both during the war and after, and now it is extremely hard to build mutual trust between the two peoples. So, what could be more noble, more humane, more necessary, than the peacemaking of Guram Odisharia?!

Today in Georgia there are very few people like this among our creative elite, or especially politicians, who know and understand the Abkhazians to this degree. And most importantly, truly respect them, as Odisharia has repeatedly proven and continues to prove, while calling only for peace. Guram does not accept violence in any form; he is a true believer, who considers God’s commandment “Thou shalt not kill!” the most important, and therefore we can rightfully refer to him with God’s other words: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.”

I do not presume to judge Guram’s entire oeuvre as I am familiar with his works only in Russian translation. Nevertheless, I am sure that he will leave a significant and special mark on modern Georgian literature, and “The President’s Cat” is a guarantee of this. This cheerful, burlesque novel paradoxically contains a lot of sadness and sorrow. Guram managed to convey this whole spectrum of emotions, with a nostalgic sadness, “easily,” “readably,” and with great artistry.

This is a novel about a beautiful past, but it also is an anti-war novel about how warfare senselessly breaks and cripples people’s destinies. And in this beautiful and crazy world, the only thing that a person should do is to pity and love, to sympathize for others’ sorrows, and never lose hope; good will certainly overcome evil.

Guram Odisharia is a bright, sunny person, radiating kindness all the way.

The “Abkhazian Meridian” Newspaper

 September. 2021

Yang Ke, Professor at the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies


How did I get acquainted with the work of the outstanding representative of modern Georgian literature Guram Odisharia, and with the writer himself?

It all started five years ago when Professor Indira Dzagania visited us in Guangzhou.

She recommended that I translate Mr. Guram Odisharia’s novel “The President’s Cat.” Before I had finished reading through the text, my head became occupied with one persistent thought: this book needs to be translated. Our Chinese audience should get to know this wonderful country, its beautiful representatives, and the protagonist of this story, Mikhail Temurovich Bgazhba, with his exotic stories. After all, he is so endearing and unusual. The language of Guram Odisharia’s work is simple and easy to understand. The whole tone of the book is calm, peaceful, and humorous, but at the same time, sad undertones echo throughout.

All this aroused in me a strong desire to see Georgia with my own eyes and to meet the very writer who admires the whole world, his homeland, and his people so deeply.

At the beginning of 2017, our delegation arrived in Tbilisi, bringing with us the first draft of the translation of the “The President’s Cat.”

I was deeply impressed by the modesty, sincerity, and hospitality of Guram Odisharia, as well as the great respect I noticed from those around him.

The Chinese translation of “The President’s Cat” came out in September 2019. And in November of that same year, Mr. Guram Odisharia was invited to the International Forum of Analytical Centers on the Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century (2019) to present the Chinese translation of his book.

At a meeting with Chinese readers of this book, the writer shared his impressions with the audience: “China is the country of my dreams. When I entered the university, I became interested in ancient Chinese philosophy, and China became my dream country. Finally, my dream came true,” he said, with emotion.

“The publication of the Chinese translation of ‘The President’s Cat’ is the first historic step in the literary and cultural exchange between our two countries,” Guram Odisharia also noted.

I take this opportunity to sincerely wish that more and more Chinese readers, as well as readers around the world, become acquainted with Guram Odisharia’s works, filled with the light of kindness, sympathy, and love. His books are a gift to people of good will.

The “Abkhaz Meridian” Newspaper.

 September. 2021

Mzia Faresishvili, Journalist


It Matters Who Represents the Country

From the 9th to the 13th of October, Frankfurt am Main will host the world’s largest book fair. These days Frankfurt turns into a pilgrimage site for publishers, contemporary writers, poets, and book aesthetes. The Georgian delegation is also heading to Germany.

Georgian publishers have been visiting the Frankfurt Fair for ten years in a row. This time, the Ministry of Culture decided to delight the public with information about the massive contribution of the new leadership to the popularization of Georgian literature throughout the world. The Minister of Culture, Guram Odisharia, did not hide his enthusiasm over such a significant event as a book fair; after all, he has been a minister for only a year but became a writer almost four decades ago.

“This year, our book stand will be very rich, as never before. When we were first exhibiting at the book fair in London, I remember how several foreigners approached us and asked if we had translations of Vazha Pshavela’s works. And, to our shame, we didn’t. Today we are proud to say that we have published Pshavela’s three well-known poems in French, German and English,” the Minister commented, proudly showing the freshly printed books.

October 7. 2013

Zaza Abzianidze, Writer, Literary critic, Professor (Georgia)

Guram Odisharia walked the path to Golgotha together with his tribesmen. Walked the path both literally and figuratively. And, perhaps, the second layer of understanding and moral perception of everything that happened – was even more painful than the first…

Journal „Our writing”


Rezo Cheishvili, Writer (Georgia)

“Return to Sukhumi” is imbued with the ache of our homeland and makes us, first and foremost, look into our own souls.

Journal „Our writing”


Giga Lortkipanidze, Theater and Cinema Director (Georgia)

In the play (“The Far Away Sea”) an extremely talented and honest writer puts forward the most difficult problem.

Journal „Our writing”


Sophie Cook, Conflictologist (London, England)

I noticed how Azerbaijani and Armenian journalists, representatives themselves of the parties in conflict, came out of the performance “The Far Away Sea” with tears in their eyes. There is not a single false word in the play. The play is not only peaceful but also very objective.

Journal „Our writing”


Ioseb Chumburidze, Literary critic, Doctor of Philology, Professor


gave an interesting review of Guram Odisharia’s novel “The President’s Cat.” The book brings to life Sukhumi, a city of sun and light, saturated with the distinctive odors of magnolias and oleanders, the sea and roasted coffee, a city permeated by love and kindness.

A cat is the protagonist’s personal endeavor – he decides that it belongs to none other than John Fitzgerald Kennedy and, just like everything American at that time is considered special, this cat has powers – it is a healer.

The whole book is a remembrance of a real person from Sukhumi – Mikhail Bgazhba. The protagonist symbolizes the old era, imbued with kindly relationships, the time when Sukhumi had its own sound and color, when “the sea thought loudly” about love, and the sun rose from this very sea, equally protecting and sharing its light and warmth with everyone – both locals and guests.

The protagonist lives under Soviet rule and stands at the top of the party hierarchy. But this is a man completely out of touch with his time. His existence is a true punishment, a labyrinth of temptations, Munchausen-like and adventurous, but his way of life and his attitude towards the world is love for that sky, for that earth, for those people… and in general, for the Motherland. That’s the reason he falls victim to the “war that has slipped into the city.” The protagonist cannot endure the fact that Sukhumi will lose its color and sound, the ability of the sea to think loudly, and the people – their love for each other….

The discussion of the book was led by a writer and Doctor of Philology, Professor Rostom Chkheidze. Various famous authors as well as cultural and scientific figures gave speeches and presented their memories at the event.

“The President’s Cat” is a healer – the beginning of a cure for that constantly open wound named Abkhazia. And who knows, maybe it is also one of the pillars of the bridge that still needs to be built to restore these relationships

Magazine “Our Literature”


Tanya Mülbeier, Film Director


Dear Guram!

Tkemali patriot and indefatigable researcher of adjika, Tanya from Tallinn, is writing to You.

I hasten to share with You my vivid impressions of Your modernist book after my second time reading it. No better avant-garde novel has ever been written.

And to be more precise, there is no better literary work that breaks all generally accepted stereotypes regarding the theory of genres.

After my first acquaintance with the novel, I became infected with it to such point that the chapters of the book hunted my imagination day and night. The images acquired more and more significance, the symbols – regularity and coherence. In this situation, I had no choice but to spread the epidemic further by expanding the innocent readership of the President’s Pet.

The multifaceted description of the protagonist and his entourage amazes with its extent, giving great creative freedom. Therefore, the montage and visuality of the narration are so obvious to the reader or, excuse me, to the viewer, that they can easily puzzle out the author’s exact intention, built upon his subtle intuition and virtuoso professionalism.

So, I endured a pause, which I filled with the reading of individual scenes from the life of the Cat, and then I took the already fairly “well-loved” book and re-read it as my most favorite piece of art, with gusto and a thorough knowledge of the matter.

I am not afraid of repeating myself, the book already has a life of its own and grows and develops, excuse me, without Your participation. So be it! Let everyone who reads the book be able to see his own story, unravel his own metaphors, and borrow the most beloved anecdote from the Author’s toast.

As for me, I will be forever happy that I had the pleasure to get acquainted with Sukhumi through the BOOK, to experience bright pages from the life of its inhabitants and… to acquire a dream.

If destiny ever wishes to revisit the Cat and bring about the creation of its screen version, I agree on any terms.

I don’t know what else this modest sample of printing can be compared with. Maybe with a divine satire (the spot for comedy has already been taken), when paradise was outlined in one particular place, at a certain time, by a crafty and generous creator. Or is it better to turn to Babylon – a symbol of permissiveness, which the ignorant built and thereby destroyed…? I don’t know, but I understand that the form and content in this case constitute a symbiosis – they are inseparable and thoroughly permeating each other.

Many thanks to the Author for the literary lesson and the pleasure of participation.

Dear, respectful Guram, I believe that You have already heard a lot of kind words, from different countries and in different languages, during the publication of the book, both from critics and from grateful readers. Virtuosos with words can appreciate this prose more accurately and more logically express their thoughts than I can, but in me You will always find support and understanding.

In our professional environment, they always say: send your sample, what did you do before?

So, now I know a lot, a lot about You. At least now I know what You did not regret spending 12 years of your life (from 95 to 07) on!

Respectfully, curious about the virtues of elarji and the secret of ekala.


Nona Kupreishvili, Literary Critic, Doctor of Philology, Professor


Guram Odisharia’s novel “Return to Sukhumi” entered the Georgian reality at a time when society was gradually succumbing to despair.  A true writer cannot sow despair, cannot leave the reader without hope.

As for his new novel “The Black Sea Ocean,” here we are dealing with a lonely protagonist. At the very beginning of the book, he gets the news of the death of his beloved Dea and instinctively rushes towards some unknown direction. In the end, it turns out he is going to Sukhumi, and his journey continues until a Russian soldier stops him near Enguri.

The finale of any great work evokes a sense of inner celebration, and so it is in this case.

It seems as if the writer is looking down at a map, desperately searching for a city called “Tbilisi-Sukhumi,” but there is no such city pointed out upon the map. It is forbidden to travel to the city of “Tbilisi-Sukhumi” in “The Black Sea Ocean.”

The theme of the sea is not properly covered in Georgian literature. There is a legend that, when Galaktion used to come to Sukhumi and was asked what he was working on, “on the maritime theme,” he would answer.

For Guram Odisharia, the sea is not merely a theme but a great pain. For him, the sea is fate.

From the first day of his arrival in Tbilisi, Abkhazia has been nothing but suffering for Guram Odisharia. Imbued with the deepest pain and greatest honesty, his portrayal of the path from Sukhumi to the Golgotha of Saken-Chuberi appeared when his readers were desperately searching for a “word of truth.”

After the tragedy in Abkhazia, people needed to hear this “word of truth,”and this word was said by Guram Odisharia: “Georgians lost Sukhumi, not in Sukhumi but at Rustaveli.”

“Morning Newspaper”


Mariam Marjanishvili, Doctor of Philology, Professor at Akaki Tsereteli State University in Kutaisi


Guram Odisharia’s novel “WithYouWithoutYou” stands out for its masterful use of highly artistic humorous techniques and devices.

A melancholic, warm-hearted laughter with sad undertones, characteristic of modern humorists, runs as a leitmotif throughout the book.

At the very beginning of the novel, the writer, with his usual irony, sketches the life of the Sukhumi Turbaza (a tourist camp), “formed independently of the heavenly model of capitalism.…”

Communists built the camp on the site of the city’s oldest cemetery. “Later, the joint abode of the dead and the living was named Turbaza, ‘The Komsomol Road.’”

Turbaza, with its fully enclosed space forbidden to the general public, functioned differently from the rest of the city, and served as a kind of brothel.

The protagonist of the story, Zaza, played the bass guitar in a pop ensemble – Voices of the Future – in Turbaza. Ahead of him unfolded a “merry,” delightful, and infinitely happy life, where, as the author writes, the number of daily kisses far exceeded the total number of flowers in the city gardens and squares.

The director of Turbaza, Arkady Bessarionovich, tried to convince everyone that he was as fearless as Stalin by hanging his portrait in his office. His attempt did have an impressive effect – Bessarionovich was feared and shunned both by the Turbaza employees and tourists…. The secret of Arkady Besarionovich’s permanent leadership of Turbaza was the favor of high-ranking officials towards him. And this favor was engendered by his dexterity – when high-ranking officials needed to entertain their official guests in a luxurious manner, “The Komsomol Road” reserved special suites for them at any time of the year.

…Also, occasionally, high-ranking officials wanted to spend some alone time with beautiful, pleasant, and infinitely free women.

“The Komsomol Road” carried out this task meticulously and flawlessly in accordance with the internal, unofficial regulations.

It also happened that a high-ranking official would call the director and notify him that today he was in the mood to be with a woman but didn’t have one. “We will solve this issue, we will call you and you can come,” the director of Turbaza reassured the official who was in the mood to have intercourse with a woman.

This description of life in Turbaza explicitly mocks the “highly moral” ideology of the communist establishment of the entire Soviet Union.

The novel abundantly yet deliberately reveals the targets of humor tendencies of the time: hypocrisy, flattery, careerism, bribery, occupational inequality, bureaucracy, duplicity, false morality, and other vices.

The book includes numerous examples of satirical humor: “At that time, Shevardnadze stated that for Georgia the sun rises from the north (implying Russia).” This phrase confused geographers at first, but then, along with the general masses, they turned it into a joke. Sanich did not dare to quote Shevardnadze’s phrase in full, but within the framework of a joke allowed at that time, he still pointed out to tourists “the sunrise” in the north.

Regarding political commentary, there is one particularly interesting passage in the novel: “Or what’s going on with us in this country? During the period of independence, we threw out three presidents prior to the end of their presidential terms…. We let the fourth go peacefully… the fifth…? I don’t know what will happen with the fifth one…. We spend all our energy and time fighting each other… in short, we have a lot to think about….”

There is also one rhetorical question that requires an answer from our generation:

“Caucasians grappled with each other – Georgians, Abkhazians, Ossetians, Azerbaijanis, Armenians… and this is only in the south. What is happening in the North Caucasus…? But let Russia deal with this, we have our own claims to it….”

The text metaphorically highlights the idea that conquerors of all eras were always afraid of the unification of the Caucasian peoples and always focused on a Divide et impera (divide and conquer) policy, including the last conqueror, Russia.

“Hatred is one of the main and eternal components of mankind, which he can never escape,” the author writes in one place.

Guram Odisharia’s novel “WithYouWithoutYou” reveals different layers of comism, resting upon the dramatic idea of the fate of the defeated motherland, betrayal, tears, and a sense of personal helplessness.

It is common knowledge that comism is best expressed by writers with dramatic biographies. The tragedy of Abkhazia unfurled before Guram Odisharia’s eyes and later found its echo in his intense stories.

The writer masterfully manages to weave humorous passages into the plot of the love story. Exuding the utmost respect for women, the novel introduces smile-evoking lines in the light of laughter: “Later, I realized that it was impossible to be jealous of her, and I also realized that with time it would be impossible to love her. I never felt alone when I was with her; our conversations were constantly attended by her dead and living boyfriends….”

The following passages, written in Guram’s signature satirically humorous style, are especially interesting because of the subjects chosen for comparison, the sharpness of the comparison, and the degree of exaggeration: “The Soviet Union collapsed, the country gained independence, but the number of rallies did not decrease. One war was followed by another, then – a third…. A time came when even those who had a conscience behaved dishonestly, and those considered wise behaved insanely….”

The number of people missing from war was increasing day by day. Parents buried their children…. At first, people worshiped each new president, raised him to the seventh haven, but then cast him to the ground with all their might. This process traditionally took place on country’s main avenue. As soon as a rally of the ocean of people gathered there, the power would change. As a result of every such change, the number of emigrants leaving the country increased. Everyone and everything changed, and only Nelli was constant; she loved everyone and everything, even those who killed each other with Kalashnikovs.”

… “When the country collapses, people can no longer tolerate each other, reverting to the reality of their hearts. Those mortally opposed to each other, together with the intelligentsia that licks the boots of any government, open wide the gates of the cemetery to these same governments.

Trained by a mass ideology, paranoid, the crowd demands eternal sacrifices and still cannot learn to discern the right people,” writes the author in one place.

I agree, preaching even the highest ideals is pointless if we don’t understand the proper way to achieve them.

The novel also shows the verbal directness of some citizens and the carelessness of officials through a letter by an intelligence service employee. In the missive, the letter writer deliberately tries to expose the vices of our existence through individual creativity: “There was a time when I worked in the intelligence service, then they dismissed me, then they reinstated and dismissed me again. They didn’t like either my thoughts or my directness….

The monastery, cracked in three places, damaged by floods and storms, is an allusion to our country…. People have lost their joy, they smile less, their smiles don’t look like smiles anymore…. Here, on this corner of the earth, bestowed to us by fate, we haven’t yet been able to erect the solid walls of a new state…. Since we gained independence, we have been wasting energy that should have been directed towards building a country into fighting with each other.

If not for this, we would already have a decent country. What is wrong with us…? What is happening to us…?

It is easier for us to deal with conformists and swindlers than with loyalists and truth-seekers.

We have put on the mask of democracy, but we are still far from a real and well-thought-out democracy. Our motherland is what we are today… and the motherland of our children will be what our children make it….

The moral integrity of the country is much more important than its territorial integrity….

We are always ready for both freedom and slavery, but we must be ready only for freedom, only for freedom and unity at the same time.”

In the novel “WithYouWithoutYou”  the adventures of the violinist Zaza unfold in three dimensions determined by the “sun, sea, and love.”

Every encounter with a woman energizes the protagonist with new impulses and beautiful memories, but only Lana’s love left a deep mark on his life out of all of his adventures with love. And the violinist Zaza fully perceived this passionate love only after he lost it.

However, this lost love always followed him through difficult times. It was a strange feeling that withstood the test of time and entrenched itself in the life of the protagonist so deeply that he could not get rid of it. His life was consumed by this powerful feeling, the eternity of love.

There are some emotions and thoughts that can only be shared with the woman you love. It was the ability to share these emotions that gave meaning to the life of Zaza the violinist and, as he himself said: “I never parted with my honor and conscience, at least I tried not to….

And when I come to you in unknown ways, I’ll ask you to remember that I tried to love even those who hated me….”

This was the life credo of the protagonist left in solitude: “What is the name of the time when youth leaves, but old age does not seem to come? When you send off the years like drunken guests, and yet you are left behind with extended adolescence….

Belatedly, I understood that all my life you’ve been my only destination and that’s the reason I shed my old age along the way. I loved only you, you, because I was with you in all three times of my life even when you weren’t there….”

Truly, love has a thousand aspects, and each of them has its own sadness, happiness, and fragrance.

In general, Guram Odisharia’s novel “WithYouWithoutYou” makes the readers not only look in the mirror of life, but also makes us peer into our own souls.

The author skillfully managed to relieve the internal tension inherent in the novel with the help of humor and comedy. At the same time, he assisted his characters in overcoming the drama, neuroticism, and conflict in their fictional lives. And his readers accompany him in that journey, being guided by the hand through their own depressions and traumas.

The novel “WithYouWithoutYou” is a spiritual legacy left by one generation to the next. The reader will close this book completely transformed… with the conviction that the secret of eternal worldwide success can be found only in the truth.

The magazine “National Library”

September 18. 2020

Temur Chkheidze, Theater Director


I have had great respect for the Sukhumi Theater ever since I was a kid. Distinguished among other Georgian theaters by its top-quality productions, the Sukhumi Theater was always considered one of the leading forces of Georgian performing arts. Never, not once, has this theatre staged a poor, déclassé play.

When Dima Jaiani became the artistic director of the theater, he asked me to put on a play several times….

But we didn’t know what to stage….

… And after endless meetings and conversations, I finally made up my mind and said, “Generally, I am not interested in directing even a good play. But if I were to put on a performance, I would like it to touch on the extremely painful theme of our Abkhazia….”

However, I stood categorically against a “trial” play that would only be concerned with finding the guilty and the innocent!

The constant search for someone to blame and the position “I’m always right no matter what” is, I believe, a tricky and dangerous road….

Although it’s extremely difficult, one must always look at himself first; what have I done wrong, what’s the solution…?

Ideally, I wanted to put on a performance that would allow me to talk and think about all of this…

so that we could all reflect on what happened… how and why did people sharing the same soil turn against each other… because it can’t be the fault of one, two, or even a hundred people….

Dima and I discussed, but what about the material…? and I said to Dima:

“This story hurts us all in the same way, but you, who better know the people displaced from that land, aren’t you familiar with a writer who went through all of this just like the others…?”

And Dima told me about Guram Odisharia…. A man from Sukhumi and a greatly respected Georgian writer….

Dima gathered Guram’s every writing and brought them to me to read.

This was the period when I was spending half of my time in Petersburg staging plays at the Big Drama Theater. Then I would come back and put on performances here… and so I went back and forth in an endless cycle between the two cities….

I read Guram’s short stories and novels and liked them….

Then Guram and I met.

Not only is Guram Odishara an excellent writer, but he also turned out to be an outstanding person, a man of crystal-clear honesty and impeccable reputation.… He enriched my life with something that can’t be put into words…. We saw eye to eye on many things.… It felt like he filled some empty space within me, took his place in my life….

I was gifted with this person!

“I have never written a play!” he said.

“Very good, let’s try,” I responded….

In his works… I encountered so many stories…. He was telling about so many things that he himself was an eyewitness to….

Those who crossed the Chuberi pass… those who went through this hell… they don’t tell everything… but oh sinful soul! It’s not that they are hiding something, not that they don’t want to tell or recall…. It’s just that they witnessed things that are too painful to put into words….

And so, we agreed – let’s not overthink how this will turn out, let’s collect the stories first, and then….

I was leaving for Petersburg, then coming back….

Guram was preparing some writings for me to look over….

Although I tormented him into writing three drafts for me, I think we eventually achieved almost exactly what we wanted to achieve….

Guram and I always had the feeling that we were missing out on something, and we were constantly thinking about what to add…. Some episodes, without which I can’t imagine the play now, came to us while working, during rehearsals. I would ask him, “Guram, do you know what we need…?” and he would bring a cleaned, edited version of the text the very next day…. “Maybe this will work…?” he would say.

In his works, in his novels, one can find many such things that I call the writer’s nose for detail….

For example, there is an episode during the bombing of Sukhumi… a dog runs along the beach, thinking, “Man, does this earth belong only to humans?”

This is the main point of the story to me!

When one phrase, one situation can shed light on everything and make the whole reality tangible.

  Or the final episode of our play….

  It’s snowing on the beach….

 “I have to light the candles…,” one says.

“How are you going to light them…? Well, to hell with it, light them but hurry up. You must cross the border in time, otherwise you’ll end up in a lot of trouble….”  (Because his document had already expired.)

And he lights candles for the living and the dead left in Abkhazia….

I’ve heard that in Abkhazia, at the University of Sukhumi, they showed the DVD recording of the play, followed by a discussion. As Guram Odisharia tells me, the Georgians, Abkhazians, and Caucasians, who periodically meet in delegations, have watched the recording of the play together several times, sometimes in Armenia, sometimes in Azerbaijan.

I know that a certain segment of Abkhazians did not expect that a play where Abkhazians and Georgians speak so freely would be performed openly on the Georgian stage.

This also pushes the Abkhazians to think!

How long should we hide the truth? Now is not the time to hide anymore…! Now we must open up everything…! Russia is the root of our troubles, but there would be no Russia if we and the Abkhazians treated each other decently, I am sure of that….

But maybe I’m wrong….

This material was prepared by a theater expert

Manana Tevzadze

July 10. 2020

Devi Futkaradze, Writer, Editor-in-Chief of the “Abkhazian Meridian” Newspaper, (From the Article “The Phenomenon of Guram Odisharia”)


At the end of June 2022, the House of Literature in Berlin hosted a joint presentation of the novel “The President’s Cat” by the famous Georgian writer Guram Odisharia and the novel “Night Shore” by the noted Abkhazian author Daur Nachkebia, whose oeuvre requires a separate discussion.

Why a joint presentation?

Both novels were published as one book, under one cover by the authoritative German publishing house KLAK Verlag.

We can safely say that this kind of book has become a unique publishing phenomenon.

Why unique?

Because the book includes novels by two writers living in the post-conflict space of previously opposite sides – a completely new phenomenon in the literary world. Both works are anti-war novels. They describe the way of life in pre-war and military (1992-1993) Sukhumi and the fate of a person under these conditions.

Translators Katja Wolters (“Night Shore”) and Lydia Nagel (“The President’s Cat”) did an excellent job. This is evidenced by the unquestionable interest of the German readership in the book. The early sales results also testify to this.

The project, carried out by the Kondrat Adenauer Foundation and the “Georgian Literary Initiative,” has reached far beyond the scope of their normal activities.

And so, its presentation turned into much more than just an ordinary festive occasion. In the opinion of the general public, it marked a significant event in the literary life of Berlin and, undoubtedly deserves detailed coverage.

As we have already noted, the presentation took place in the “House of Writers” in Berlin and was attended by the author of the novel “The President’s Cat,” Guram Odisharia. Due to various reasons, Daur Nachkebia was unable to travel to Germany and participated online via Zoom. This Berlin presentation became an informative occasion for diving into the subject mentioned in our article – “The Phenomenon of Guram Odisharia.”

We could talk about the richest traditions of Georgian literature and the glorious galaxy of its modern talented representatives for a very long time. Each of them is unique in his own particular way. Each of them has their own main theme that underlies all their creative work. Some would call it a literary niche. While Guram Odisharia dedicated almost all his works to the Abkhaz theme, this by no means can be considered a literary niche.

Each nation, large or small, forms their own original world of a native language, culture, attitudes, and much more. The Abkhazian world constitutes a significant, integral part of Guram Odisharia’s spiritual space. He perceives it as something of his own, close. He loves this world and does not consider himself an outsider in it. To a certain extent, he is a part of it, and its offspring. No wonder some Western literary critics call Odisharia a Georgian-Abkhazian writer.

Once, in adolescence, Odisharia’s fellow student at the institute, Aida Ladaria, told him: “Guram, you are a Georgian writer, but do not forget that you are also a Sukhumi writer.”

But what does it mean to be a Sukhumi writer?

This happens when, regardless of nationality, the writer feels a spiritual connection with Abkhazia, where he was born and raised, a connection with its culture. When he feels an involvement in her fate.

The Abkhaz theme in Odisharia’s oeuvre serves as an instrument for expressing his ideological dualism and his peaceful conception of the surrounding reality. This theme is evident in his very approach, in his very relation to this reality.

All this forms the core of Guram Odisharia’s creative phenomenon. Even the Berlin presentation, which we mentioned earlier, in this context acquires a symbolic character. Where does the dualism of Guram Odisharia’s worldview draw its inspiration from? Maybe from that distant time when he, like all Sukhumi boys, played football on the Sukhumi beach. And, having matured, he began dreaming of creating Black Sea poetry. Or maybe from the time when, together with other young Abkhaz writers, he listened to the teachings of the wise guru – the coryphaeus of Abkhaz literature Bagrat Shinkuba.

Or maybe it’s just because he was born in Sukhumi! Although he had Georgian colleagues who also lived and worked in Sukhumi, none of them wrote such artless love lines:

“In any city in the rain, I just get wet, but in the Sukhumi rains I grow.”

Guram Odisharia’s books are imbued with this feeling of love. Not a single other Georgian writer can boast that in the thirty post-war years his works have been translated and published in almost twenty countries around the world. And Guram Odisharia’s “The President’s Cat” is patted on the head even by readers of the one-and-a-half-billion-strong nation of China.

We can safely say that today, after Fazil Iskander, Odisharia is the most recognizable figure among literary advocates of Abkhazia and Abkhazian culture abroad.

This reality has not yet been fully acknowledged by the Georgian readership.

Guram Odisharia’s creative outlook, which we touched upon earlier, is clearly echoed in his latest novel, “WithYouWithoutYou”. I just can’t help but say a few words about this work.

So, what is the novel about? About war and peace, about what elevates a person, and unleashes the evil inherent in him. Love is one of the main leitmotifs of the novel. It, as a “through action,” extends throughout all the episodes of the book, combining them into a single whole.

Love! The poets of ancient Greece and Rome, the titans of the Renaissance, and poets of all subsequent generations composed odes about this emotion. In modern times, it remains one of the main themes of poetry, and literature in general.

In “WithYouWithoutYou”, Guram Odisharia describes the love scenes in a completely different manner. They are explicit, and at the same time poetic. The novel contains lines that any master of great literature would be proud of. The lines, like a watercolor painting, are sometimes infused with a riot of colors, and sometimes with a soft sensual tenderness.

Could Odisharia write those lines without being born in Sukhumi, without absorbing the spicy scent of freedom of feeling? I’m sure he could not!

This novel has begun to live in the international literary arena too. It has already been translated into Russian and published in Moscow by the Cultural Revolution publishing house (2020). In our opinion, “WithYouWithoutYou” deserves the same “geography” of international popularity as the novel “The President’s Cat.”

That, perhaps, is all for today. And maybe tomorrow, we will discuss Guram Odisharia’s new works.

This is necessary not only for Georgian literature, but for all of us.

The Newspaper “Abkhazian Meridian”

July. 2022

Zeinab Saria, Doctor of Philology, Professor at Shota Meskhia Zugdidi State Teaching University


The novel “The Black Sea Ocean” distinctly exhibits a peculiar stream of consciousness technique.  The flow of thought of a person living at the crossroads of the 20th-21st centuries is extremely complex. Moment by moment it can leap from connection to connection. The associative nature of these flashes of thought creates a sense of unpredictability: who knows in advance to what depths it will take a man?!

In his novel, Guram Odisharia never pushes the limits of language to the extreme; for the most part, he sets his phrases within the bounds of consciousness. The book engenders a peculiar type of monologue, an appeal to a second person without the slightest hint of the need for an answer. The novel represents a kind of confession, a conversation with this other silent person. The words from the inner monologue are printed in a different font, dark and large, while the memoirs appear in smaller bold letters. The chapter “Goodbye” is laid out in a completely different, hand-written style, indicating its exceptional importance. This specific style creates a peculiar meta-textual space and contributes to the expansion of the field of thoughts. The narration is followed by pictures cut into the text, images, and sharply different texts…. Let’s call them “bebki,” another semiotic entity applied to the text and employed to simultaneously bring a lot of varied information into the reader’s sphere of attention. Each “bebki” represents a semiotic sign that lays the fundament for the bottom line of the text. Historical, social, cultural, moral, and political aspects intersect here.

The narrative is not chronologically continuous, often intruded upon by memories, and expected and unexpected associations…. But the peculiarities of stream of consciousness are quite a well-known phenomenon. Human memory stores a thousand thoughts and then suddenly resurfaces them from the void. Creolized text further multiplies associations, representations, feelings.

Let’s first deal with the question, what does it mean to creolize a text and what exactly is the concept of “creole?”

There is a wandering thought that “creolized texts are one of the most exceptional types of texts.”

The 20th century gave birth to such a concept: “creolized text.”

So, what does creole mean?

Creole is what comes from mixing two different essences into a new one. For example, a person born from the marriage of a Spaniard and an Indian woman is considered creole.

There are also discussions about creolization of culture and language. Creolization of culture means an intermingling of cultures.

Now let’s return to G. Odisharia’s novel with is unconventional architectonics.

I found out about you in the club,” this is how the narration begins. The novel is written in the form of a peculiar internal monologue. As if the text was addressed to another person, but that other person never enters the dialogue. On page 28, the narrator reminds us that at half past eleven at night, in a club, he learns about “her.” On page 47, we are reminded of this again, arousing our anticipation, and only on pages 62-63 are we told that Dr. Dea has fallen victim to cancer. This is heart-wrenching news for the storyteller. He has a vision: he sees Dea as she was twenty-five years ago. We understand that she was a femme fatale for him. This is where the salmon story begins. This is a poetic short story, divided into several parts, which sets the tone for the rest of the novel like a tuning fork until the end.

The novel here and there includes memoir-types of texts: “December 29, 1973. Sukhumi;” “January 1, 1974. Gagra;” “March 1993. Sukhumi;” “August 1994. Tbilisi;” “October 1993. The Sakeni-Chuberi Pass;” “From the Diaries of the Summer of 1973-1976….”

What historical and political realities are reflected here? The narrator gave us a retrospective look at the socialist reality from a perspective after the end of the Soviet era. What tendencies can we detect here? Clearly a critical point of view.

From the very first pages of the novel, we learn that the revelers are sitting in the club “Cosmo.” It’s December 29, 1999, twenty-five minutes to ten in the evening /Time is extremely important in this novel. The feeling of the inexorable passage and loss of every minute arises. This is why the image of a watch constantly appears in the visual material of the book/.

It’s a pre-New Year’s celebration.

The first image in the book is presented on p.5 – the sun haloed by its rays. Nearby is a die, an allusion to the game of fate; also here are hands joined in the position of a suppliant, two planes with obscure stains. What do these two circles symbolize? Maybe the discus of Festus with a hieroglyphic inscription in the Proto-Georgian, Colchian language? In this context, the icon of the sun is also perceived as a symbol of the old Aya wrapped in the mystery of legends / after all, King Ayat is the son of Helios, and Aya is the country from which Helios begins to rise/.

What visual message is this meant to convey? Perhaps this engenders a sense of ever-changing time. Through this icon, the author grasped the hidden-lost ancient impulse in the reality of being/ in the pleasant atmosphere of festivity/ and transformed the immanent into the visible, voiced the deaf flat tone of fate in the feast. Maybe this is an impulse from the nation’s collective unconscious, focused on self-preservation, perhaps identity preservation…? What was not reflected in the discourse was  shown to us visually; we were made to feel it. Why not? Why is it implausible that anti-colonial impulses are encoded in this visual material?

The novel is not only characterized by an abundance of visual images. A rectangular block on page six showcases a dating ad. A 38-year-old woman, a music teacher with a 12-year-old daughter, separated from her husband, is looking for a man under 45, tall, presentable, and erudite. Her message ends with the words: “Short, overweight, and refugees need not respond.” In fact, erudition is obviously an extraneous requirement that the ad author would happily toss away. When she rejects the short and the overweight, she shows the hierarchy of her values – looks are her true priority; when she excludes the refugee, she indicates that she is looking to take a shrewd economic step. With this hint, she herself cancels her requirement for erudition. In our time this ad text evokes a smile with its message characteristic of a sad era.

The feast goes on. The hum of cars can be heard outside. The image of a wristwatch held in someone’s hands and positioned within a rectangle, cuts into the text. Nearby, two arrows are coming from above and below, as if time flows both up and down, forward and backward, back and forth. There is also an image of a fish, a symbol of God, as a reference to salvation. Nearby is a wheel as an allusion to destiny. In the lower right corner, there is the shape of a crescent moon. It can be perceived as Festos’s discus turned at another angle, and perhaps is introduced to hint at a mysterious distant past. All this makes us ponder the merciless changing of time. Isn’t the intense force of the continuous current of time felt in one of the “bebkas,” which enters the text in the form of a torn piece of paper with three poetic minima on it:

a/ “The wood is burning, / the oaks of smoke are flying.”

b/ “The language of the year is the leaf, / rustling in the wind.”

c/ “From the black eyes of the fields / a horse is slipping out.”

In the fragment of the New Year’s greeting, the text shows a raised hand with the palm facing the reader. Palms, according to palmistry, bear specific individual characteristics giving a skilled reader the possibility to predict the past and the future from the lines imprinted on the palm. It shows the lines of life and fate, mind and heart, etc. This palm too, reveals the mystery of destiny. Above the thumb are some points bounded by the circle, and some outside of it. A point inside this circle is an essence defined in local space, and a point outside the circle is a sign of infinity.

The feast goes on. Nino’s sonorous laughter fills the room. This woman has seized hold of the storyteller’s consciousness. Here, another stitched-on “bebki” enters the text with the following message: “Reptiles were created before us. Our planet belongs to reptiles.” What do these two sentences refer to? Who could this be speaking of but Nino, the fallen angel in the story?

The narrator imbibes a mug of burning whiskey and becomes dizzy. It is here that the Soviet poster, thrown up to the surface by his consciousness, cuts into the text. The poster shows a warrior standing with his index finger pointed, and an inscription below: “Did you sign up as a volunteer?” The poster categorically obliges the young person to volunteer, instantly transporting him back to the crisis of the socialist era.

The novel is replete with such “intrusive” texts and visual materials. This is the method that the author found for his use of the “stream of consciousness” technique. His personal version of “stream of consciousness” naturally requires these inclusions.

This gives us the opportunity to not only dive into the conscious, but also into the unconscious of the narrator.

This is how I came to understand this novel, and I knew that I was ready to read it.

  The Magazine “Ritsa”


Nestan Ratiani. Doctor of Philology, Professor (Georgia)

Letters on the Theme of Abkhazeti – Guram Odisharia’s Novel

“Return to Sukhumi”

Once at the Institute of Georgian Literature, Kakha Jamburia presented Guram Odisharia’s translation of the novel “Night Shore” by Daur Nachkebia. On that same day, I heard of Guram Odisharia’s “Return to Sukhumi” for the very first time. The novel immediately caught my imagination, but all my efforts to track it down, either in bookstores or in the collections of friends and acquaintances were in vain. My Abkhazian refugee student told me that I would never get hold of the book and that Abkhazians would tuck it in their loved ones’ caskets when they said goodbye…. It gave me cold chills to hear this. To me this is a much more powerful tribute than the Nobel, Goncourt, or any other prestigious literary prize.

Years passed, and the novel was re-published. As I read the book, I quickly realized that if it were up to me, I would make it mandatory to include at least some excerpts from the works of certain Abkhazian and Georgian writers, in all educational programs. Namely, those authors who make the audience contemplate the misery we experienced without any excessive pathos or falsehood. In the novel “Night Shore,” Daur Nachkebia mentions how an old Abkhaz man who lost his son to the war, tells his grandchild a bedtime story about a wolf. Every night the wolf is inevitably killed, without any possibility of changing the course of events and escaping death. The story lends itself easily to an allegorical interpretation. It pains the storyteller that it is impossible to go back to the past and resurrect his murdered son in a new version of reality where the war never happened. Those events have now passed into history, and alas, they can’t be changed.

When my student Temiko Revishvili was deciding on a research topic, I suggested he choose Guram Odisharia’s “Return to Sukhumi.” After reading the novel, Temiko chided me: what have I ever done to you? I received this rebuke because the recollections found in the book are extremely difficult to read. From a technical point of view, however, the author is conducting an interesting literary experiment, giving the work a unique structure that spares the reader and eases the reading process. In the novel, the author weaves together the most harrowing stories of the IDPs crossing the pass and their no less challenging new lives in Tbilisi, with memories of the peaceful city of Sukhumi. This style of narration, where the memories of the author and his close friends and mere acquaintances give way to the author’s subjective analysis, can be considered a novelty in Georgian literature. I would also say that the alternation of the collage and montage retrospectives with a consistent narrative, makes the novel interesting in terms of both its presentation of events and literary technique. I feel it’s to the author’s credit that he never utters a single word of reproach, whether he is speaking of the Abkhazians, the Georgian marauders, or the unfriendly people of Tbilisi. He tells horrifying stories, not to expose the evildoers, but to highlight the kindness of others. The author is not looking for anyone to blame but instead is trying to face the truth and hopes that his old friends he grew up with in Abkhazia, whom he has now lost touch with, share his attitude.

Below are some excerpts from Temiko’s research. If you haven’t read the novel, I hope you find it engrossing and will agree to let your students read it too.

Georgian fiction is not exactly fond of the theme of war. If we leave aside historical writings and folk epics, Georgian authors are, for some reason, less attracted to war stories than many other cultures. By the 20th century, however, Georgian literature, just like world literature, is dominated by the images of war; but in these stories the conflict is not juxtaposed with peace. In this aspect, Guram Odisharia’s “Return to Sukhumi” was a true discovery for me. The novel is a tapestry of different colors: warm, colorful memories of Sukhumi before the war, cold, colorless recollections of the “peaceful” Tbilisi after the war, and black-and-white stories about the crossing of the pass recalled by the writer and his friends.

The description of pre-war Sukhumi is full of little episodes characteristic of a happy tranquil city-life. When reading the novel, our mind creates a picture of the peaceful, pretty, unbothered, friendly, and shining Sukhumi, a city that was, is, and forever will be so beloved and vitally important not only to the author but to many Georgians. It doesn’t matter whether you have been to pre-war Sukhumi or not, whether you have walked through the beautiful streets of Gagra or not. You realize that these places have become important for you too, you hope that non-Georgians will also share this feeling, and you hope that if an Abkhazian reads the novel, he too will be saddened that he has lost something so important, and that this loss is much greater than what has been gained. This mood envelopes the reader from the very beginning of the text, when Guram Odisharia tells us about his dreams and says that he always dreams of Sukhumi, but not the wartime one, the old and cheerful, pleasant, and friendly Sukhumi that he was forced to leave years ago. As you read the lines, turning through the pages, an obsessive thought keeps coming back: Does an Abkhazian feel the same way? Does he also dream of a pre-war city where you can distinctly recognize Georgian faces and hear the Georgian language? A thorough description of these dreams of the past allows us to form a single image of Sukhumi and to better contemplate what kind of prosperous city the war razed to the ground, from the homeplace of the people of Sukhumi to where they ended up, how sudden was the loss of hundreds of friends and relatives, and how shocking was this “gift” of fate to the civilians.

This rapid maneuvering back and forth between peace and war reveals how confusing the situation was for everyone. The reader, puzzled just like the characters of the novel and even the author himself, follows the writer’s attempt to analyze the situation and spares no effort to discover how the inhabitants of this peaceful city suddenly found themselves at the epicenter of the war. Maybe it was not as unexpected as it appeared? Maybe the fall of Sukhumi, when happiness gave way to misery, laughter to grief, and joy to fear, could have been predicted in advance? It is difficult at first, while still in shock, to realize that the war not only destroyed residential buildings, institutions, cultural and historical monuments, ruining pieces of cultural heritage and killing people but, along with the crumbled stones and bricks, wrecked human relationships and lives. That is why, in the aftermath of all this horror, a large part of the terror-stricken population doesn’t or can’t seem to leave the city, at least in their thoughts. They still hope they can take back their city. However, as time goes by, this hope is gradually fading. Guram Odisharia’s description of the peaceful city leads his readers to his main point: you may rebuild walls, re-erect bridges, construct new buildings, but if the connection is lost, if the relationship is broken, the city will never return to you. A city is so much more than its walls….

Stories about refugees crossing the pass are arguably the hardest to read in the novel, because the author isn’t sugarcoating the truth, he doesn’t spare the reader and tells horrifying stories as if he didn’t know that each tragic story, he recalls could easily become a separate piece of work. The author has conveyed the shocking events that he witnessed with almost complete accuracy, neither embellishing nor intensifying the effect of the reality. As a leitmotif of these cruel scenes, Odisharia tells stories that help the reader to retain their faith in humanity. Actually, these stories of nobility are by no means stories, but simply details (for example, how an old husband and wife help each other to walk). But it is these details that fill the narrative with color. Without them, the novel would become so heavy and tiring for the eyes, heart, and mind of the reader that he would have to put the book aside. However, the narrator manages to describe even the most difficult stories in a manner that creates a feeling of intense involvement between the reader and the characters. The reader, together with the characters in the book, feels the difficulty of the road, the winter frost grips him in its cold, and as he hears the quickening breaths of the travelers, he realizes how hard it becomes to walk. As a background to this, the author paints a picture with heart-wrenching details: a man finds his wife frozen on the rock; a mother pushing her two frozen infants in a stroller; an old woman’s hands are being warmed by her even older husband, but her eyes are already raised to the sky; a young boy asks his mother to continue down the road, but the exhausted woman won’t leave her son behind, wrapping her arms around him – soon both are found frozen…. And this time appears a new detail, which is more than just a detail: robbers. When everyone is finally “happy,” when everyone thinks that they have overcome the ordeal and crossed the pass, a new danger occurs – scoundrels, robbers who prey on tired and exhausted people, snatch things from those who are already suffering, and build their “happiness” upon others’ misery. In the memories of internally displaced persons (Guram Odisharia uses the word “refugee” instead of “displaced”), post-war Tbilisi appears as an ugly, cold, gray, and inhospitable city. Ironically, people who have experienced the brutality of war now face a bitter reality: peace reigns in the city, as in the whole country. But woe to such peace! Peace is sometimes no less dangerous than war.

The collage of news from Tbilisi is often dominated by deaths, but these deaths are not caused by the forces of nature – they are suicides. And where do these suicides appear? In “peaceful” Tbilisi. And who are the people committing suicide? The refugees that have experienced the cruelty of the mountain pass, who seem to have nothing left that can shock them, their stoicism forged by the atrocities of the war. The IDPs in peaceful Tbilisi can no longer endure constant new problems, unending hardships, and the unbearable, monochrome way of life. They can no longer look into the eyes of their relatives, if they still have any, and view suicide as a solution. But most of the IDPs do not even have the luxury of taking their own lives because of the great responsibility they feel towards their families. The author’s image of Tbilisi is shrouded with dark colors, in contrast to Sukhumi, which has fallen, but is still associated with light to him. Life in Tbilisi is nothing but a succession of unfortunate events, while the sound of joy can always be heard in Sukhumi. Perhaps people failed to recognize the beginnings of conflict in all this joy and light, but the imagination of the IDPs portrays Sukhumi as a carefree paradise, in contrast to their present lives in Tbilisi, a dark, depressing, and gloomy place for them. Locals unconsciously blamed the IDPs for this, while the IDPs blamed the Tbilisi residents. There was a pass on the road from Sukhumi to Tbilisi, and this pass turned out to be the dividing line between happiness (Sukhumi) and hardship (Tbilisi).

People originally from Sukhumi whom the author meets in Tbilisi share their stories with him. These stories are scattered throughout the text and are intended to unify the three parts discussed above. The author accompanies these accounts with his own stories. The description of his time spent with Slavik Lakoba is arguably the best among his recollections. Guram and Slavika grew up together. Writing poems was their common passion. The two best friends had many stories to tell, but only one of them was considered by the narrator worth including in the novel. A raincoat, that the friends had covered with handwritten versions of their favorite poems, became a symbol of friendship between the Abkhazian and Georgian peers. As time passed, the paths of Lakoba and Guram diverged. While the author bitterly notes that he still does not know what happened to that white raincoat, the symbol of their friendship, the reader hopes that Slavik Lakoba also remembers this story and has the raincoat. This narrative combines two important concepts: peace and then war, or the friendships of Abkhazians and Georgians the way it was at first, and then their disconnection. The raincoat adorned with verses is a metaphor for something that was lost somewhere along the road, and no one knows if it will ever be found again. As we can see, the author relates this narrative in a very interesting and symbolic manner and although it covers only a few pages in the book, the story could easily become a stand-alone piece of work.

In the book, the narrative often gives way to the author’s personal analysis. He, just like the reader, is interested in exploring the events that led to the war. Was it possible to change anything? Unfortunately, there’s only one answer: when something happens, it cannot be undone or amended. It is better to mull over what has happened and look for the underlying causes. During this process, we should not be afraid of facing even the most bitter truth.

In his novel, Guram Odisharia speaks of forgiveness and says that no one will apologize to the IDPs, and no one will feel guilty for the misery the displaced Abkhazians suffered. The only solution is for the IDPs themselves to show generosity and forgive each other for everything, so they can be honest, at least with each other, about what happened. And what happened is the days of Sukhumi, the cruelty of the mountain pass, the merciless reception in Tbilisi, and the current poverty of Abkhazian refugees.

The suffering that the people of Sukhumi and the entire country of Georgia experienced during its fall led to the feeling of nostalgia, which gave rise to the birth of hope. The IDPs tried to alleviate their unbearable nostalgia with hope for the future. They believed and still believe that one day they will return to Sukhumi. This belief is clearly echoed in the text, where we notice that the same chapter title is repeated three times through the book. The author chose this title to be the name of the novel as a way to express his optimistic attitude despite everything. The chapters with this title focus on the process of returning to Sukhumi, using three different modes of transportation: train, ship, and plane (by land, sea, and air). All three, the train, the ship, and plane, are full of joyful and happy people that, in the imagination of the author, are heading towards Sukhumi. Although all this only exists in the author’s dreams and night visions, it still puts the reader in a hopeful mood. The reader also contemplates his own role: “No bird has returned to its native nest alone. Only a flock of birds can do this….”


Guram Odisharia: “We Will Have Permanent Problems with Abkhaz People Until Our Policy Becomes More Human”


Tako Khutsishvili

“Today, many people make slogans to restore territorial integrity. However, the main purpose is restoration human unity and relations. We do not need return of Abkhazia in square meters but first of all we should gain the trust of the people back. Unfortunately, politicians do not see the human factor at all. They just see politics and certain schemes,” said writer from Sokhumi Guram Odisharia in his interview with the

Guram Odisharia finished both secondary and high school in Sokhumi. He has been writing poems from childhood. However, his paintings were published earlier than his poems. By profession he is historian and linguist. He was advisor of the Union of Writers in Abkhazia and was active journalist in Sokhumi. Since 1987 he was editor of the magazine Ritsa in Sokhumi which, as he said, was a bridge between Georgian and Abkhaz peoples. After the fall of Sokhumi, he fled to Tbilisi via Caucasian range. Nowadays he is busy with writing novels. His book “Return to Sokhumi” was published 5 times and has become one of the reasons to start negotiations between Georgian and Abkhaz peoples. The writer has a lot of Abkhaz friends and still continues his relationship with them. Guram Odisharia believes that doors are never closed for human relations.

 -Mr. Guram, you often visit Abkhazia. What kind of relation do you have with local people; have your relations changed?

 -Our relation is very sincere. I often receive Abkhaz friends. Even completely unknown Abkhaz people visit me. Many Georgian and Abkhaz people visit each other. They are not famous people; and Georgian-Abkhazian Commission assists them too. I have friends and acquaintances almost in every field. I started negotiations with Abkhaz people in 1997. First I met them in Sochi. We have met in Tbilisi and other countries of the Caucasus. I was in Sokhumi on January 10, 2004 for the first time after the war.

 -Wasn’t it difficult for you?

 -It had its own pre-conditions. They had already read my books in Abkhazia. “Return to Sokhumi” was translated in Russian and they accepted this book very well. In the book I described my memories about beautiful city of Sokhumi, which they also miss. After the war, cities rapidly changed. Sokhumi has changed too. Thus, they read the book with nostalgia. People are fed up with tension and controversy. My book is full of sympathy and pains of both sides. In 1997, when first meeting of Georgian and Abkhaz public diplomacy was preparing, Abkhaz side wished to meet with me. I have my childhood friends in Abkhazia – they are Abkhaz, Greek, Armenian, Ukrainian and Jewish. We were very close to each other in the city. Current government of Abkhazia is also my generation. I avoid political meetings but they still invited me several times. I am not a politician or decision-maker. When elections are approaching, members of various parties call me and they request me to stand with them to show that they negotiate with Abkhaz people. But it is temporary action. After elections finish, they forget Georgian-Abkhazian relations. Abkhaz people know that I am independent writer and painter and sincerely understand their grief. So, it makes my relation with them easier. I can tell them some bitter truth directly, though they will not accept it from other person. One Abkhaz woman told me: I am happy and proud that I am member of Sokhumi literature circle.

-Do you think there is real resource for the reconciliation of Abkhaz and Georgian peoples? Maybe, you have thought of it quite often.

-After each conflict, there always exists resource for reconciliation because politics are changed and everything can happen very suddenly. We lived in Sokhumi before war and saw how situation was getting tenser. But neither we nor our Abkhaz friends believed similar war would break out. Unfortunately, neither party had leaders who could find a common language. It was a period of illusions. When time passed, these illusions disappeared. Everybody is aware of global politics. My friends and I think we will take honorable place in global politics with the support of our wisdom, historical experience, love and sympathy. Even a child knows the aggressive policy of Russia. They also feel Russian invasion on Abkhazian territory.

Today, many people make slogans that restoration of territorial integrity is very important. However, restoration of human unity and relations are most important. We do not need to return Abkhazia in square meters; but first of all we should gain back the trust of the people. Unfortunately, politicians do not see the human factor; they just see global politics and certain schemes. We cannot speak with the people with whom we co-existed and built churches during many centuries in accordance to these schemes. This genetic memory exists in people but many of them do not use it. We will have permanent problem with Abkhaz people until we make our policy human.

-The Human Rights Centre started Sorry Campaign in 2007. People say Georgian people do not have anything to apologize for. What do you think about this campaign?

-I have information about this campaign and I appreciate it. Unfortunately, I do not know the reaction of Abkhaz people about it. Though, I know reaction of Georgian people – many of them get angry saying we have nothing to apologize for and they should apologize, etc. We both had radical leaders. Unfortunately, the leaders have not reached an agreement yet. When a person, even if he/she is not guilty at all, apologizes to another; it warms relations. I am one of those people who think that we could avoid the war. We must speak about our mistakes. We cannot achieve the goal unless catharsis does not occur in our hearts.

 -Position of Abkhaz elderly people is very important for Abkhaz people. Reportedly, 20 years ago, at the so-called Likhni meeting, they had anti-Georgian position. What is their current position, how do they assess the reality?

 -Unfortunately, in the current situation the opinion of Abkhaz elderly people is not that important and significant. Abkhazian society is small and still controversial. They see problems in various ways. Many Abkhaz people want to settle the complicated situation and are ready for dialogue. They want to find a common starting point for communication that will be good for both Abkhaz and Georgian peoples. There are also radical opponents of this relation who do not wish to negotiate with Georgian people. However, the recent events in Abkhazia, recognition of their independence by Russia and violence of Russian soldiers changed their opinion. It is urgently necessary that decision-makers do their job. But it is bad that the political elite has not analyzed the period of two years ago. They have not studied the causes of tensions and military operations. Unfortunately, they have not considered the opinion of people who had relation with opposite side.

 -Did you visit your house in Sokhumi?

 -I have not visited my house since the war and I am not going to before everybody returns there. Before arrival in Sukhumi I visited North and South Caucasus; I saw many impoverished IDPs and realized one thing – unless people find a common language, my house is a composition of just sand and bricks for me which was standing and will stand in future too. Many people lost properties during the war but cemeteries and memory are most important for me; they should not disappear. My Abkhaz friend looks after my father’s grave; even the stone has not moved from the place. And it is the most precious thing for me.

We live in ultra-political space where there is small place left for human relations which was particularly important for us and the Abkhaz people before. Many people say that Abkhaz people hate us. This is not true. When you arrive there and get rid of newspapers and television, only ordinary relations remain. First lady of Abkhazia is Georgian – Shonia. It is a big resource.  Doors are never closed for human relations. We have not only common cuisine but our songs and dances are also similar. Our world-view is also common; I mean, we equally honor bravery, love and faith. Abkhaz people have not changed their Apsuara – unwritten moral law.

Martina Nicolls, Writer (Australia)

“The Cyclops Bomb” by Guram Odisharia: book review

The Cyclops Bomb: A Novel (2013) is set from about 2003 to 2009 in Georgia.

Thirty-seven-year-old Irakli is a Georgian TV cameraman taking footage, in Georgia and oversears, of news, conflict, demonstrations, death, and whatever his producer of the New Vision TV studio requests. Working with him, is female reporter Nini.

Irakli falls in love with Frenchwoman Claudia who is living England, but also travels the world reporting on news. Their relationship is seen through brief correspondences.

Irakli has a secret – he has a pistol, whom he calls Pietro Beretta, and he wants to kill someone: someone specific.

There are heroes in this novel, although they are seen briefly through short news footages, trying to make a difference in the world.

This novel is written in the first person. Irakli is the narrator, and at one point, Pietro Beretta – his pistol – is the narrator. Readers learn of Irakli’s character through short, fragmented, news footages that are not connected, except through his vision, or through Nini’s and the producer’s interpretations of political and current affairs. Not all of his camera footages are used on television: they are either edited or scrapped.

In contrast and comparison, readers also see Irakli’s non-work relationships through short, fragmented correspondences – and their responses. The longest correspondence is to his son Lasha.

What is the Cyclops Bomb? ‘Every person has his own Cyclops bomb, like a star of fate.’

This is an interesting, and oftentimes compelling read, but also frustrating in not seeing characters develop – except Irakli – but it’s a reflection of the news of the day. It’s this approach to the novel that provides a thought-provoking view of Irakli and Georgia

Gogi Gvakharia, Journalist, art critic, professor. In “Radio Liberty” since 1995. (Georgia)

The premiere of the Sokhumi Theater

The day of the fall of Sukhumi coincided with the premiere in Tbilisi’s “Samefo District Theater”. The actors of the theater named after Konstantine Gamsakhurdia of Sukhumi,

Those who don’t have their own building, opened the new season with Guram Odishariya’s play “The Sea That Is Far”. I also attended this one-act performance, which was staged by Temur Chkheidze.

[Scene from a play. noise of the sea]

The waves, the noise of the sea, which could be heard in the “Kingdom District Theater” before the start of the performance, are part of the life of the people who came to the premiere. “The sea that is far away” is the name of the play by the Sukhumi writer Guram Odisharia. For the theater troupe named after Konstantine Gamsakhurdia of Sukhumi, for the displaced persons, this sea is really far away. To reach this sea, a special pass is needed to cross the Enguri. It is with such a pass that the hero of the play, Zurab, whose role is played by the artistic director of the theater Dimitri Jayan, gets to Sukhumi. Zurab goes to his father’s grave, and then he meets his childhood friend, Astamur. This whole hour and a half performance is, in fact, a dialogue between Astamur and Zurab – a heated dialogue accompanied by insults and compassion, aggression and love, but still a dialogue, a human conversation.

[Scene from the play] “Where does such hatred come from, Astamur?…”

We now offer Zurab’s monologue. But not because Zurab is right and Astamuri is a liar. It’s just that the performance is performed almost entirely in Russian, and we did not consider it necessary to translate a part of the performance into Georgian for the radio listeners.
Zurab is right, but so is Astamur. In Guram Odishariya’s play, the fate of people is not easily decided. Both sides bring their truth here. The truth – on the stage, in the hall, for the audience to hear… When the opposite parties are unable to talk to each other in life, we are left with a dialogue on the stage at least… invented, played, sometimes a little linear-pathetic, but still a dialogue.

Among the audience at the premiere presented in the “Kingdom District Theater”, I also caught the eye of those people who were in favor of a forceful solution to the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict and unilaterally blamed the ethnic Abkhazians, moreover, called them “Apsu”. An impression was created that the desperate Astamur, who prides himself on the independence of Abkhazia today, addressed them from the stage… Astamur already has listeners in Tbilisi today – “The Sea That Is Far” will be presented again in “Samepo” these days, but when will Astamur’s compatriots listen to Zurab? When will it be possible to show this performance in Sukhumi? We addressed this question to the author of the play, Guram Odishariya.

[Guram Odisharia’s voice] “It is our dream, but due to the tense political situation, it is not realistic that we will come to Sukhumi with this performance.”

According to the author of the play, Temur Chkheidze’s name in itself means that people in Russia will really be interested in this performance, whether in Sukhumi or not. We asked Guram Odisharia how he started working with Temur Chkheidze.

[Guram Odisharia’s voice] “Mr. Temur read my books, liked his spirit and said, let’s do something new… I got to Sukhum last year and these are the impressions of my trip… Mr. Temur and I worked on this play for at least six months.” Style reserved)

Six months proved to be enough for a theatrical dialogue, which does not end with the unification of Georgia and the return of IDPs to Abkhazia. The sea still remains far away, but Zurab and the people who come to see Guram Odishariya’s play these days can still hear the sound of the sea very well.

September. 2005

Slovakia. Bratislava. ”Kultura. Pravda. Sk.” L’ubor Matejko expressing his opinion about Guram odisharia’s novel “The president’s cat”.
Словакия. Братислава. ”Kultura. Pravda. Sk.” Любор Матежко (писатель и историк) о романе Гурама Одишария «Кот президента»

Knihy týždňa: Romány z Kaukazu o vojne, nádeji a beznádeji

#Prezidentov kocúr #kniha #Kamenné sny #Guram Odišaria #Akram Ajlisli

Ľubor Matejko, slavista a historik | 15.11.2016 16:00

Slovenské preklady kaukazských autorov sú na pultoch našich kníhkupectiev veľkou zriedkavosťou. Teraz tu však máme hneď dva romány autorov z Kaukazu: jeden gruzínsky a jeden azerbajdžanský. Obidva hovoria o vojne a jej dôsledkoch, ale každý celkom inak.

Gruzínska literatúra pre nás už tretie desaťročie prakticky neexistuje. Celkom výnimočnou udalosťou bolo v tomto smere špeciálne číslo Revue svetovej literatúry z roku 2013, do ktorého vybral ukážky gruzínskej poézie a prózy Valerij Kupka. S azerbajdžanskou literatúrou je to podobne, ba vlastne horšie, lebo na sólo číslo RSL ešte len čaká.

Slovenské preklady kaukazských autorov sa tradične robili cez ruštinu a považovalo sa to akosi za normálne, keďže išlo o „sovietsku literatúru“. Sovietsky zväz medzičasom zanikol, ale pokiaľ ide o preklady, nič sa nezmenilo: profesionálnych orientalistov máme málo, turkológov ešte menej a kartvelistov nemáme vôbec. A tak aj Prezidentovho kocúra Gurama Odišariu, aj Kamenné sny Akrama Ajlisliho preložili rusisti. Pravda, nejde tu o klasické preklady z druhej ruky, pretože Ivana Kupková aj Nina Cingerová pracovali s autorizovanými verziami textov.

Prezidentov kocúr ako tichá výčitka s nádejou

Román Gurama Odišariu rozpráva o reálnych príbehoch reálnej historickej postavy: jeho hlavným hrdinom je Michail Bgažba, svojho času prvý tajomník Komunistickej strany Abcházska. Jeho obraz autor kreslí s veľkým zmyslom pre detail, nie však ako obraz všemocného partajného činovníka, ale ako obraz otca abcházskej renesancie počiatku 60. rokov.

Guram Odišaria: Prezidentov kocúr (Slovart, 2015)

Bgažba tu vystupuje v mnohých polohách, no jeho starosti o plnenie päťročných plánov či budovanie komunizmu tu nenájdete, je skôr ľudovým hrdinom a postavičkou mestského folklóru: Bgažba ako iniciátor myšlienky založiť reštaurácie Mercheuli, Ešera a Amra, ktoré sa potom stali kultovými a schádzali sa v nich suchumskí intelektuáli a miestna bohéma. Bgažba ako most medzi Gruzíncami a Abcházcami, ktorý vždy dokáže všetkých zmieriť a dokonca založí Inštitút genetiky, ktorého cieľom je dokázať, že všetko na Kaukaze má spoločný genetický základ. Bgažba ako ten, kto dokáže zo Suchumi urobiť pupok sveta, tvorivý a úsmevne ambiciózny polyhistor, ktorý v Picunde hľadá Aristotelov hrob. Bgažba ako majster prípitkov, Bgažba ako hostiteľ, ku ktorému chodí svet a opíja sa s Fidelom, s Chruščovom, s čínskymi súdruhmi i s japonským miliardárom…

Čítate o Abcházsku, a vôbec nemáte dojem, že vás autor vedie do akéhosi zabudnutého kúta sveta. A ani vám nepripadá absurdné, že z času na čas do deja zasiahne aj kocúr prezidenta J. F. Kennedyho.

Odišariov text je svieži a dáva naplno vyniknúť exotike prostredia a svojráznemu gruzínskemu humoru. Iba občas, celkom nečakane, vás vyruší letmá poznámka typu: to bolo ešte pred vojnou. Keď to autor spraví prvý raz, na chvíľku zaváhate, kým si uvedomíte, že nehovorí o roku 1938, ale o roku 1988. Narážky na vojnu sú potom častejšie, a na konci pochopíte, že všetky tie veselé podrobnosti o živote v sovietskom Suchumi sú tu len preto, aby dokonale vynikla tragickosť vojny, ktorá zmenila Suchumi, Abcházsko aj celé Gruzínsko.

Reštaurácie Ešera a Mercheuli, kedysi plné zábavy, ostali prázdne a mĺkve. Prvá sa ocitla na abcházskej strane barikády, druhá na gruzínskej. A abcházske a gruzínske Grady, ktoré pri nich rozostavili, si namiesto vyberaných vín a jedál navzájom posielali rakety. Bgažba to nevydržal a zomrel, tak sa končí Odišariov román.

Je ako tichá výčitka, pretože aj keď sa už dnes v tejto časti Kaukazu nebojuje, problém ostáva: tisíce opustených domov, desaťtisíce utečencov. Odišaria je jedným z nich. A hoci sa na rozdiel od mnohých iných uchytil v Tbilisi veľmi dobre a donedávna bol dokonca ministrom kultúry, spomienky na domov sa zjavne nevie zbaviť. Keď bol na návšteve Suchumi, pýtali sa ho, či sa pôjde pozrieť na svoj rodný dom. Povedal, že nie, že videl Karabach, Baku, Jerevan, severný Kaukaz a všade to bolo rovnaké. „Ak nedôjde k zmiereniu, je celkom jedno, či tam ten dom stojí, alebo nestojí… Národy Kaukazu sa nemajú kam odsťahovať, musia teda svoj problém vyriešiť.“ Odišaria verí, že sa tak stane: „Nádej mi vlieva to, že mám v Abcházsku priateľa, ktorý sa stará o hrob môjho otca.“

Newspaper Dennik N. Slovakia. Bratislava.

Mirek Toda’s text about Guram Odisharia and his novel “President’s Cat”

Газета Dennik N. Словакия. Братислава. Текст Мирека Тода о Гураме Одишария и о романе «Кот президента».

Podarilo sa nám presvedčiť Moskvu, že potrebujeme závod Pepsi. Tá nemala taký buržoázny imidž ako Coca-Cola

Ako vyzeralo Abcházsko, kým jeho palmy a araukárie nezničila vojna? Stane sa niekedy znovu súčasťou Gruzínska? Rozpráva gruzínsky spisovateľ Guram Odišarja.

Na Slovensko prišiel Guram Odišarja v čase, keď sa slovenský prezident Andrej Kiska pripravoval na niekoľkodňovú cestu do Gruzínska. Autorovi vyšiel v slovenčine veselo-smutný román Prezidentov kocúr o živote v Abcházsku, najkrajšej časti Gruzínska, ešte keď ho malo Tbilisi pod kontrolou a priateľstvá medzi tamojšími obyvateľmi nezničila vojna. 

Keď si vybavím Suchumi, hneď mi napadne vôňa mandarínkovníka. Pre vás je ktorá vôňa Abcházska najdôležitejšia?

Vôňa mora zmiešaná s eukalyptami, ktorú som vdychoval, keď som sa usadil na pobreží. Ten morský vzduch a stromy, ktoré tam rastú, ako aj spomínané mandarínkovníky – to je voňavý kokteil Abcházska. Suchumi je liečivé mesto, kde sa vždy chodilo rovno k moru, tam, kde rastú eukalypty, a liečili sa tam všetci arómoterapiou. Pre mňa je to aj psychologická terapia – narodil som sa tam, Abcházsko milujem.

Prímorský subtropický raj na brehu Čierneho mora však nakoniec v 90. rokoch zničila vojna a vy ste sa odsťahovali do Tbilisi. Zažili ste ju?

Áno, bol som v tom čase šéfredaktorom literárneho časopisu Rica (tak sa volá aj vysokohorské jazero s priezračnou vodou v Abcházsku –pozn. red.). V magazíne sme publikovali články gruzínskych spisovateľov, ale aj abcházskych preložených do gruzínskeho jazyka. Dá sa povedať, že som fungoval ako mierotvorca v oblasti literatúry. Kým sa začala vojna, všetkým som hovoril, aby sme v žiadnom prípade neprerušili dialóg s Abcházcami, aby sme vždy spolu besedovali. Ak sa nebudeme rozprávať, potom príde kalašnikov a makarov – bohužiaľ, tak sa stalo, a s nimi aj tanky a grady. Po vojne, keď sa začali zgrupovať ľudia okolo národnej diplomacie, všetci si na mňa spomenuli, hovorili, že sa treba rozprávať s Guramom, on vždy hovoril o dialógu.

Prečo sa vlastne začala vojna?

Má to veľmi veľa príčin; každá strana, gruzínska i abcházska, má svoju verziu. Priniesť nejakú politickú analýzu je veľmi zložité. Medzi Abcházcami sa hovorilo, že po Berijovi a Stalinovi sa v regióne príliš zvýšil počet obyvateľov – Gruzíncov. Žilo ich tam okolo 250-tisíc, Abcházcov len okolo 80- až 90-tisíc a tí boli proti takému trendu. Na gruzínskej strane zase prevládali postoje, že historicky je to naša krajina. Každý si hľadal svoje dôvody, no myslím si, že tým hlavným bolo, že Sovietsky zväz sa rozpadol príliš rýchlo. Všetci sme čakali, že padne, ale nie tak dramaticky v takom krátkom čase. Kresťania hovoria, že keď človek chce postaviť svoj nový dom na miesto starého, tak začne búrať ten starý od strechy, a nie od základov. V tomto prípade však Michail Gorbačov i Eduard Ševardnadze nepremyslene rozvalili tieto základy. Rozbehli sa veľké konflikty, najmä u nás na Kaukaze. Bolo to veľmi emotívne. Najprv prišiel konflikt o Náhorný Karabach, potom Južné Osetsko a nakoniec aj Abcházsko. Dodnes sa tieto konflikty nepodarilo utíšiť.

Teraz je veľmi horúci spor o Náhorný Karabach. Čo sa deje medzi Azerbajdžancami a Arménmi?

Problém je v tom, že hovoríme o nevyriešených chronických konfliktoch – tie sa z času na čas prebúdzajú. Teraz sa Azerbajdžanci znovu nechcú zmieriť s tým, že stratili územie, ktoré považujú za svoje, kým Arméni tvrdia, že historicky im patrilo vždy. Preto nás neprekvapuje, že jedna strana masívne zbrojí a ukazuje svaly, že je to jej územie. Druhá ju zasa obviňuje z agresie, a tak sa točíme v jednom kruhu.

Hrá v tomto zamrznutom konflikte Rusko na obe strany? V Arménsku má vojnovú základňu, kým Azerbajdžanu predáva zbrane, ktorými Baku zase útočí na Karabach…

Samozrejme. Rusko sa svoje záujmy snaží udržať všade. Aj počas vojny v Abcházsku vydelila Moskva na začiatku asi 50-60 tankov Gruzíncom, to bol veľmi silný arzenál. Dali k dispozícii aj grady a delostrelectvo. Objavili sa tu zbrane, ktoré Sovieti používali v Afganistane, ale neskôr začali Rusi pomáhať aj druhej strane. Rusko začalo hrať svoj šach na geopolitickej šachovnici a my sme dostali mat, ako keď deti hrajú šach. Nedovideli sme na niekoľko ťahov vopred. Bohužiaľ, zároveň platí, že medzi Gruzíncami ani Abcházcami neboli takí lídri, ktorí by sa vedeli normálne spolu dohovoriť. Vtedy by sa dalo konfliktu zabrániť, pretože v tom regióne bolo veľmi veľa zmiešaných rodín.

Aké ste mali vzťahy s Abcházcami?

Veľmi blízke, vyrástol som tam. Suchumi bolo veľmi medzinárodné mesto. Niekedy sa dalo veľmi ťažko rozlíšiť, kto je Gruzíncec a kto Abcházec. Spolu sme sa rozprávali po rusky. Mali sme svoj suchumský morský žargón:Kuda ty ľochaješ, Vasja? A tak podobne. Keď sa rozbehla vojna, nastúpili bradatí muži s kalašnikovmi a zabíjali navzájom priateľ priateľa, často ani nevedeli, kto je z ktorej strany. Všetci mali rovnaké samopaly či uniformy.

Vo vašej knihe je moment, keď bomby vyhadzujú mŕtvoly delfínov na breh. Tak vyzerala vojna v Abcházsku?

Obraz vojny bol strašný. Ako viete, príroda Suchumi je prekrásna, sú tam palmy, argentínske araukárie či agávy. Množstvo farieb, nebo je úžasné. Všetci tam chodili oddychovať, v Suchumi bol každý deň sviatkom. (smiech)Keď ráno vyšlo slnko a odrážalo sa od mora, mesto sa celé osvetlilo, do toho tá zelená farba stromov, a všetci sme si v reštauráciách či kaviarňach vychutnávali pohodu pri šampanskom. Nacionalisti na obidvoch stranách však začali po sebe strieľať, a bolo po pohode. Na rozdiel od Karabachu však medzi oboma stranami stále existuje komunikácia, ľudia sa tam navštevujú, vedia, kto u koho býva a komu spálilo dom.

Môžete tam chodiť na návštevy aj vy?

Áno, poznajú ma tam. Besedujeme tam bez toho, aby sme riešili veľkú politiku. V mojom dome už niekto žije, taká je realita, ale nezaujíma ma to, zmieril som sa s tým. Moje knihy sú v Suchumi celkom populárne, pretože ukazujú život do vojny taký, aký bol.

Hoci ho nemajú pod kontrolou, veľa Gruzíncov stále hovorí, že Abcházsko je najkrajší kus ich krajiny. Súhlasíte?

Samozrejme, ak hovoríme objektívne, určite je najkrajšie. Väčšina Gruzíncov tam nesmie chodiť, ale mnohých spájajú s Abcházskom rodinné väzby. Prímorské Batumi v Adžarsku je pekné, ale na magické Abcházsko s horami a jeho jazerami sa nechytá. 

V roku 2008 prebehla päťdňová vojna medzi Gruzínskom a Ruskom o Južné Osetsko. Nechal sa Michail Saakašvili vlákať do pasce?

Rusko bolo pripravené, veľmi rýchlo tam vošli jeho sily, poznali Saakašviliho charakter. Vybrali si prekvapivý dátum práve počas začiatku letných olympijských hier v Pekingu. Vojna trvala veľmi krátko, Rusi ukázali veľkú silu i techniku a dorazili takmer až do Tbilisi – zastavili sa 40 kilometrov od hlavného mesta. Moskva vtedy jasne ukázala Tbilisi, ako to bude s Južným Osetskom.

Business Week


The program includes various presentations of ten contemporary Georgian authors and four new German Translations supported by GNBC. Georgia participates at the Leipzig Book Fair with its national stand for the fifth time.  The program, which will be held during 17-20 March is busy with different contents and formats of literary events and is purposed to promote Georgian literature abroad.

German editions of two Georgian novels and two poetry collections supported by GNBC will be presented within the four days at the Leipzig Book Fair and at the well-known literary center “Cafe Telegraph”.  Lasha Bugadze, Guram Odisharia, Abo Iashagashvili, Ela Gochiashvili, Bela Chekurishvili, Shalva Bakuradze, Shota Iatasvili, Irma Shiolashvili, Nika Jorjaneli, along with German publishers and translators will introduce their literary works to German readers.

There are planned readings, discussions and presentations of “The Pass of the Persecuted” by Guram Odisharia (published by Reichert Verlag);

статья о писателе Гурама Одишария и романе «Кот президента» в Венгерской  (Будапешт) англоязычной газете THE BUDAPEST TAIMES

Top of Form

 18 September 2017 – 11.09 AM

Novel brings together people separated by conflict

Georgian writer Guram Odisharia’s novel “President’s Cat” has been translated into an impressive 20 languages, including English and Hungarian. The protagonist of the book, Mikheil Bgazhba, actually existed (1915-1993). He was one of the most famous and colourful personalities of the urban folklore of the multinational city Sukhumi, the coastal capital of Abkhazia (Georgia), of the second half of the 20th century.

With an Abkhaz father and a Georgian mother, Bgazhba enjoyed the same respect and love from both Georgians and Abkhazians. Although he was a high-ranking official during the authoritarian Soviet period, unlike his colleagues he was notable for his simplicity, gentleness and warm attitude to the people. Bgazhba brought together the warring parties and defended the rights of his fellow citizens.

The protagonist of the novel died in Abkhazia during the acute ethno-political conflict in 1992-1993. He could not bear the brutality of war and the hatred of Georgians and Abkhazians, the victims of which became his friends, relatives and neighbours.

Odisharia (pictured) employs his characteristic poetic language and humour to describe the savoury stories, exotic nature and life of the inhabitants of Abkhazia of the second half of the 20th century. The novel has been translated into the Abkhazian language as well.

Writers and critics have called “President’s Cat” a literary bridge sandwiched between the Georgians and the Abkhazians, as the novel is read with the same interest among these people who became separated due to the conflict.

Guram Odisharia was born in 1951 in Sukhumi in the Abkhazian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. After leaving the public school in Sukhumi, he graduated from the historical-philological faculty of the University of Sukhumi.

He is the author of 30 novels of poetry and prose, several plays, and film and television scripts. His poetry collections have aroused particular interest among readers, namely “Psalms for you”, “Unexpected supplications”, “Rainmaking”, “Key from the Sea,” “Seven paintings for a child” and “Peace to this house”.

As well as “President’s Cat” his novels include “The Black Sea Ocean”, “Return to Sukhumi” and “The Cyclops Bomb”. His play “… far, far sea”, staged by well-known Georgian director Temur Chkheidze, has been popular for several years.

Odisharia has been decorated with the State Prize of Georgia, Giorgi Sharvashidze State Prize, Ilia Chavchavadze Prize, Georgian Theatrical Society Prize, an A. Chekhov Gold Medal for the development of contemporary literature and A. Dovzhenko Medal.

At various times he worked as a journalist in the editorial offices of newspapers and magazines, in Sukhumi radio, in the Abkhazian regional newspaper and as a reviewer of the department of culture, education and public health of the Council of Ministers of the Abkhaz ASSR. For nine years he was a chief editor of the literary and social magazine “Ritza”.

In 2012-2014 Odisharia was Minister of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia. He is a specialist in conflictology and has participated in some 70 conferences on the Georgian-Abkhazian, Georgian-Ossetian and Caucasian international conflicts.

In 2008 in Seoul, South Korea, he was given the status of Ambassador of Peace by the Global Federation of Peace. Currently, Odisharia is the Advisor to the Prime Minister of Georgia for conflict resolution.

“President’s Cat” has also been translated into Russian, German, Abkhazian, Slovak, Czech, Estonian, Ukrainian, Turkish, Azerbaijani, Armenian and other languages, indicating its high popularity.

L’Harmattan Kiadó

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Volume release today!

Guram Odisharia: President’s Cat (World-Beautiful-Literature Series) will be premiering today at 6 pm at Kossuth Club (1088 Budapest, Múzeum u. 7. , Club hall). Ilona Erdei, translator and Péter Váradi, editor-in-chief are in conversation with the author.

The book can be purchased at a discount during the presentation. We look forward to seeing you all with love!

 Guram Odisharia

Az elnök macskája

Egy ​letűnt mesevilág elevenedik meg a könyv lapjain egy legendás személyiség, Mihail Bgazsba alakján keresztül, aki Hruscsov idején volt Abházia első titkára, s emellett tudós biológus, genetikus. A könyv akár korlenyomatnak is tekinthető, hiszen felbukkan benne Hruscsov és Fidel alakja, a karibi krízis…

Guram Odisharia: “Georgian and Abkhazian Society is Feed by the False Stereotypes”

May 17, 2011

Malkhaz Chkadua, “interpressnews”

What kind of perspectives public diplomacy has towards the resolution of Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, what is the attitude of Abkhazian society towards Georgia, are they afraid of assimilation with Russians and how correct is the politics of Georgian government towards the conflict, the writer Guram Odisharia spoke with the interpressnews about these issues.

 Mr. Guram, we know that you came back from Baku several days ago where you met with Abkhazian and Ossetian writers. Can you tell us about the project which envisages the joint activity of South Caucasian writers?

– My partner Batal Kobakhi and I visited Baku. By our initiative, the book “Time to live” was published in 2003 which united the novels of Georgian and Abkhazian writers written on war theme.

Obviously, we could not include all submitted stories: we selected the ones which did not convey the aggression and reflected the war witnessed by different sides of war: this way Abkhazians and Georgians saw the conflict through each other’s eyes.

The literature of South Caucasia consists of literature of five nations. Thus, we did not have right not to include Azari, Armenian and Ossetian writers in the project: we cannot turn backs on each other. In this way the neighboring nations can communicate their hurts, pains and desires to each other…

This undertaking created room for a dialogue. When the dialogue stopped in Abkhazia, the first bullet was shot and people died. This is how it happens everywhere: when people do not talk to each other, bullets substitute. We should start peace-building process by a dialogue. Working on this collection has turned into the peace-building process: Abkhazian and Ossetian writers came to Georgia twice in 2003. Abkhazian TV dedicated a wonderful reportage to this book, free of politics that emphasized one of the main missions of literature – protecting people from danger, war and conflict. The journalists from Baku and Yerevan prepared the same kind of reportages. This undertaking found its way in Tbilisi: the novels of Abkhazian writers were translated in Georgian and. However, a lot of work proceeded this moment: nobody will let you translate and publish his/her novel if you do not attain his/her trust. We discussed the book “Time to live” in Belgium when the representatives of South Caucasia gathered there on the issues of conflict. Famous Armenian journalist Davit Petrosiani stated at the meeting that his son was a sniper in Karabakh at the border. The son of famous Azari professor happened to be a sniper as well who stood on Azari side at the conflict zone. They both had read the book. They said that these kinds of publications should be printed on a bigger scale. Everybody shared this idea. That is why we decided to publish this collection twice a year and publish poems, stories, art works and the reviews of cultural life of different nations…

– Has your friendship with Batal Kobakhia from Abkhazia become an example for the writers of the conflicted nations?

– Indeed so. They were always asking – why are you working together, aren’t you fighting?!… It is obvious that it was hard to involve Azari and Armenian artists in this project, but the trust and a desire for warming the relations has been given birth and we are already receiving the material by e-mail. We chose the special editing council, hired the professional editor and are working slowly. The first edition of the collection will be published in two months.

 Who finances the project?

– The organization International Alert is helping us. It has been operating in Georgia for 18 years now. It is the union of conflict scientists which is financed by European Union (EU). Practically, the “time to live” is published by the financial support of EU.

– Mr. Guram, as I know the last time you went to Sokhumi was in 2009. Before the 2008 war you noted that the peace process between Abkhazians and Georgians was deepening and at the expense of public diplomacy the restoration of relations was taking place intensively in both societies. What was changed by the August war, what kind of response it evoked in your Abkhazian friends, what was the situation in Sokhumi when you went there two years ago?

– I went to Sokhumi in 2004. I cannot say that they were aggressive towards me, but I remember there was a big fear in Abkhaz and Ossetian society that the armed conflict was going to erupt again. This conflict called “Georgian-Abkhazian” in our society, has become periodically explosive. This is very bad – if the conflict ended by 1992-1993ies, it would have been easier to calm the situation, but in 1998 and in 2001 the conflicts re-erupted that cancelled the results attained by the public diplomacy, the year of 2008 changed a lot of things: new reality was established – there are Russian soldiers at the border, Russia officially recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. As a result, when I went there in 2009, Abkhazians told me that they were no longer afraid of the armed conflict with Georgia as the Russian armament protected them. However, fortunately, I felt the attitude was a lot better two years ago: I asked a friend to walk with me to the market and I heard a lot of people speaking Georgian there along with Abkhazian and Russian dialogues. There are more Georgians in Sokhumi than I thought. They would come up to me and tell me that they had Georgian wife, relative, friend and etc. I am not talking about Gali where about 40 thousand people live and the rest move through Gali and Zugdidi and the rest of Georgia. It is sad that our societies know each other from afar, basically by media sources. Often media assists the popularization of stereotypes: they always state that the Abkhazians face the danger of evaporation. This problem really exists but not as severely as the media covers it. Another side does the same: Abkhazia always covers negative stories about Georgia – government uses the media as ideological dynamite and Georgia is pictured as a dangerous country in the eyes of Abkhazians. Thus, Georgian and Abkhazian societies are floating in the ocean of stereotypes as there is no alternative source for transportation and communication.

 So Georgian media does not seek ways of public diplomacy towards Abkhazia?

– There are publications which cover the processes of Abkhazia and in general Georgian-Abkhazian relations in more or less balanced way. However, the television and printed media take wrong direction. I remember one such fact: an Abkhazian family brought their child to Tbilisi for surgery. The patient was given surgery for free. One journalist covered this story this way: Georgian side treated the child of Abkhazian hero for free and this is the man who killed 400 Georgians. When the journalist was asked how she knew that this person killed 400 Georgians, he stated that he read on one of the sites that the person is called a hero if he has killed more than 400 Georgians. When the society is feed by such unprofessional sites and reportages, it is hard to find the common language with them. I asked one of my friends not to emphasize on certain facts while making reportage or else that man would have problems when he went back. My friend considered this request. It is obvious that the media needs to cover these topics, but if certain issues are kept secret, it would help public diplomacy. They often show how they help children of IDPs for instance. They show them movies, give sweets and then the whole day long we see it on TV. The Minister of IDPs and Accommodation states on TV that they showed movie to ten children of IDPs. They should do it secretly. Are not we Christians?

 Does government try to use public diplomacy to solve this problem?

– Their comments are rarely directed to Abkhazia. I do not even remember who made the last comment regarding Abkhazia. The main emphasis is put on the criticism of Russia: it is obvious that Russia could play the biggest role in the conflict resolution, but warming relations with Russia will not automatically solve the problem with Abkhazia – starting Georgian-Abkhazian dialogue is the main thing.

 Many write that after the 2008 August war Georgian government declined the responsibility to return the territories of Abkhazia and Ossetia and instead of establishing relations with people living there, started criticism of Russia; the war gave a chance to the team of government to say that they are trying to connect with Abkhazians and Ossetians but Russia hinders their efforts by taking over Georgian territory. Do you share this opinion?

– There are certain departments and organizations where people take some steps. But does this bring real outcome?! We should consider that this is not the same conflict as 5, 10 or 15 years ago. More, it would have been possible to avoid 1992-1993 conflict if there were reasonable men in our societies. There were conflicts and misunderstandings in the past in the feudal times as well, but the negotiations and dialogues solved them sometimes. This conflict resembles a fire that started as a bonfire and then turned into the conflagration and spread in the whole forest. Our conflict passed the scopes of small conflict and has reached tremendous scale. Many concepts have been worked out. A lot of time, money and resources are spent on them but none of them work as there is no trust between the sides… Unfortunately, nobody leaves room for dialogue. It is possible that big states establish profitable conditions for both sides after negotiating with Georgia and Abkhazia. The document can be drawn which can give basis for eradication of conflict but if people look at one another with fear and hate, then these documents will be just the scraps of paper. I do not see the room that can ease the situation and help people find ways to reach each other…

 However, there are many such ways described in your books: Abkhaz and Georgian heroes easily find common language. In the story “Son-in-law” you write: “nobody will be happy after this war…” “The war tested each one of us… As always and everywhere, the war was defeated in Abkhazia as well…”

– Abkhazia war did not have right to exist. However, history does not like lyrics… From the very moment the tanks appeared I felt that we were facing biggest catastrophe, but the fear and danger existed before. After passing through the miseries of war we were all hurt and angry. I passed my pain on the papers. Earlier I wrote just poems and published them in Sokhumi. I conveyed my experience in the book published in 1993 “Path of IDPs.” Then the IDPs would come and tell their stories. Once some ladies from Sokhumi told me about the death of my younger friend Tengo Vadakaria. Tengo was an exceptional boy. He was a fantastic artist. He could not leave his paintings during the war. He protected his Abkhazian friend Vova from Georgian looters. (Unfortunately, they were many…) He did not let them kill Vova. After the fall of Sokhumi Vova had told Tengo that he was going to protect him now. Vova told Abkhazian warriors that Tengo had rescued him and told them not to harm him. They did not touch Tengo, but warned them that the killers were going to come in about 3-4 days and they would kill Tengo. Unfortunately it came true. The killers came. I do not want to say their names. The whole Georgia hates them. They put Tengo on the wall. Vova covered him and yelled that he was a good Georgian and they should not kill him. The killers said that it is exactly good Georgians they need to kill as they were needed. They could not persuade Vova. Vova would not leave Tengo. Finally Vova asked them to kill him first. They fired at Vova first and then at Tengo. The ladies who were hiding in the cellar witnessed this tragedy and then they told me. Tengo was buried in the yard of his house. This story radically changed my attitude towards the tragedy of Abkhazia. I realized that the war has not just the killers but the rescuers as well, the heroes who sacrifice their lives for other people. This was turning-point for my work – for many years I have been investigating such facts, people tell me the stories of heroism… That is why I think that the war defeated itself in Abkhazia.

 Many write that Abkhazian society is afraid of assimilation with Russia? How well-grounded are these statements?

– This fear really exists. The number of Russians who spend their holidays in Abkhazia increases year by year. There is splendid nature and sea in Abkhazia. Many buy lands registered under Abkhazian name. Older Abkhazians are afraid. Young people do not read much in their native language. They cannot get acquainted with the art of Abkhazian writers. That is why they somehow try to hinder the process of assimilation: they pass laws and decrees according to which you cannot work in the state agency unless you read and write in Abkhazia… So I can tell you that Abkhazians are really afraid of assimilation.

 In the “The Pass of the persecuted” it is written that you took this pass a lot earlier…

– Of course, we are talking about the spiritual pass in here. For years, the fear of big danger would not leave me. After passing through the bullets we were met by darkness, hunger, emptiness and poverty in Tbilisi. The miseries did not stop. For some reason I think that we are still taking the way of death…

– And still do you think Georgian can go back to the land of Abkhazia?

– Not in the way as it is pictured in the popular Georgian video-clip: IDPs with old cars carrying the suitcases of the world war II… Many famous TV persons on motorcycles, high brand cars. You probably remember when I wrote in “return to Sokhumi” that we will go back by car, ships, and planes and so on. After seeing this video-clip many got mad at me. They thought I helped them with making this video-clip. They would call me and tell me if I helped them with the video where the IDPs were made fun of?! But, nobody told me that they were going to make video-clip on Abkhazia. I had no part in it. And I would like to emphasize on one more things: they should not grant the medals of dignity to the singers for one or two phrases in the clip…

Author Guram Odisharia’s account of Abkhazia War IDPs published in Czech

A personal account of the people fleeing the destructive 1990s war in the Georgian region of Abkhazia is now available to readers in Czech, after prized author Guram Odisharia’s story The Pass of the persecuted was presented in Prague on Monday.

The work, first published in Georgia in 1993, was unveiled at the Academia bookstore in the Czech capital on Monday, with the author present at the event to meet readers.

Translated into Czech by Libor Dvořák and printed by the Jonatan Livingston publishing house, the story details Odisharia’s experiences alongside thousands of other civilians escaping the warzone in Abkhazia in the autumn of 1993.

Author Guram Odisharia has published over a dozen literary works, including novels and poetry collections. Photo: Georgian National Book Centre.

Made homeless after the fall of the regional capital Sokhumi and other cities and towns in the north-western region, they found themselves having to cross the Kodori mountain pass to the highland province of Svaneti.

Located in Georgia’s extreme north, the dangerous route became their only escape from Abkhazian territory, with the separatist forces blocking the Kodori Bridge and highway to the Georgian-controlled territory.

Thousands of fleeing civilians had to cross mountainous paths in freezing temperatures on foot for days, setting off from the town of Sakeni to their destination in Chuberi.

The arduous escape through the frozen Kodori poss claimed victims — including children — through frostbite and fatigue. Odisharia describes his personal experiences witnessing the hardships and some of the deaths, in his story.

Born in 1951 in Sokhumi, Odisharia graduated from the Abkhazian State University before working as reporter for the public radio broadcasting in the city and as print journalist.

Publishing his first literary work in 1969, the author has gone on to complete over a dozen novels, poetry collections and more.

Some of his most notable works include Return to Sokhumi and The President’s Cat, the latter also translated into Czech by Dvořák.

The author’s creations have also been translated into English, Italian, Russian and Abkhazian, among other languages.

His account in The Pass of the persecuted is also used by award-winning Georgian filmmaker Giorgi Ovashvili as basis for his new work-in-progress film.

Odisharia is a recipient of the Ilia Chavchavadze Prize and the State Prize of Georgia, as well as the Award of the Theatrical Society of Georgia and the ‘Golden Wing’ Prize of the International Association of Journalists.

He also served as the Minister of Culture of Georgia between 2012-2014.

The Georgian writer Guram Odishariya are awarded by Alexander Dovzhenko’s medal of the Ukrainian literary and art criticism international Academy.

Грузинский писатель Гурам Одишария награжден медалью Александра Довженко Украинской литературно-искусствоведческой международной Академией.

В Україні засновано почесну міжнародну нагороду – медаль «Олександра Довженка»

Міжнародна літературно-мистецька Академія України для відзначення заслуг громадян України, а також іноземних громадяни та осіб без громадянства, які проявили себе у сфері мистецтва і науки, як видатні творці, організатори та меценати, рішенням Правління Академії від 1 листопада 2016 р. заснувала медаль «Олександра Довженка».

Згідно з «Положенням про нагородження» почесною медаллю «Олександра Довженка» відзначаються талановиті люди творчих професій: письменники, літературознавці, перекладачі, художники, композитори, музиканти, – за видатні творчі здобутки, а також особи з інших сфер діяльності, котрі внесли вагомий внесок у розбудову національної культури та відродження духовності, виводячи їх до рівня загальнолюдських надбань.

Медаллю можуть нагороджуватися меценати, державні та громадські діячі, представники різних професій та віросповідань, які щиро підтримують мистецтво і науку матеріально, поширюють їх чи активно сприяють їхньому розвитку. 

Отже, першими нагородженими медаллю «Олександра Довженка» стали видатні українські та зарубіжні письменники, науковці, перекладачі, громадські діячі і меценати: грузинський та український письменник, перекладач, дипломат Рауль Чілачава, письменник, Шевченківський лауреат Василь Голобородько, письменник і науковець Ігор Павлюк, грузинський письменник та громадський діячГурам Одішарія, письменник, автор історичних романів Іван Корсак, публіцист, письменник, головний редактор газети «Культура і життя» Євген Букет, письменник та публіцист із Канади, головний редактор журналу «Порт-Фоліо»Михайло Блехман та український меценат і громадський діяч Віктор Кияновський.

Згідно з Положенням, міжнародна медаль «Олександра Довженка» є громадською відзнакою. Нагородження медаллю здійснюється одноразово. Медаль вручається разом із посвідченням встановленого зразка. Носиться з лівого боку грудей і розміщується в ряді зліва направо – після державних нагород України та відомчих відзнак.

Рішення про нагородження медаллю ухвалює Правління Міжнародної літературно-мистецької Академії України.

Интервью и рецензия о «Коте президента» в еженедельнике Эстонии “Sirp”

Tõeline suhhumilane

Guram Odišaria: „Sõja pale on hirmsam seal, kus elavad oma ilusat elu erksa naljasoonega inimesed.“


Gruusia kirjanik ja ühiskonnategelane Guram Odišaria (sünd 1951) on pärit Abhaasiast, kuid pidi sealt lahkuma pärast Gruusia-Abhaasia 1992.–1993. aasta sõda. Üle 30 proosa- ja luuleraamatu avaldanud kirjanik elab Thbilisis, kus püüab kaasa aidata grusiine ja abhaase ühendavate traditsioonide taastamisele. Praegu töötab Odišaria Gruusia peaministri konfliktiennetuse nõunikuna, aastatel 2012–2014 pidas ta aga kultuuriministri ametit ning oli enne seda üheksa aastat ajakirja Ritza peatoimetaja.

Odišaria raamatuid on tõlgitud ligi 20 keelde. Seoses kirjaniku külaskäiguga festivalile „Prima vista“ andis Korela Film välja tema populaarse romaani „Presidendi Kass“ tõlke eesti keelde (tlk Toomas Kall). Teoses on kirjeldatud humoorikas võtmes suurriigi kokkuvarisemisele eelnenud sündmusi Abhaasias.

Guram Odišaria, te kasvasite üles Abhaasias Estonka küla lähedal. Kas juhtusite lapsepõlves või nooruses kuulma midagi „kohalikest“ Kaukaasia eestlastest või nendega lausa suhtlema?

Jah, olen sündinud ja üles kasvanud Abhaasias. Minu kodulinn Suhhumi ei ole mulle mitte ainult Maa, vaid kogu universumi keskpunkt. Ütlen kohe ära, et ma armastan kõiki, kes selles linnas on elanud ning seal praegu või ka edaspidi elavad. Estonka asub Gulripši rajoonis, lausa 15 kilomeetrit Suhhumist. Päris lähedal, Madžara külas (samuti Gulripši rajoonis), seisab mu isamaja. Käisin tihti Estonkas ja tundsin neid hästi – neid euroopalikult distsiplineeritud, töökaid ja lahkeid inimesi. Eestlasi elas ka linnas, ja ka minu suguseltsis on segaperekondi, kus elavad läbisegi grusiinid, eestlased, abhaasid, armeenlased. Minu lapsepõlves ja noorusaegadel tõlgiti Gruusias tihti eesti kirjanike teoseid.

Gruusia kirjanik Guram Odišaria soovib oma eesti lugejatele kõike kõige paremat.


Öeldakse, et suhhumilased on omaette rahvus. Mida tähendab teile olla suhhumilane?

Vana-Kreeka allikad väidavad, et Dioskurias (muistses Suhhumis) räägiti juba enne meie ajaarvamist 70 keeles. Nõukogude ajal räägiti Suhhumis võib-olla 40 või 50 keeles. Fazil Iskanderil on ütlemine „Musta mere karakter“. Muidugi on ka Suhhumil oma karakter. Meie, eri rahvuste esindajad, kes sündinud ja kasvanud Suhhumis, olime natuke abhaasid, venelased, grusiinid, armeenlased, eestlased, ukrainlased, aserid jne. Tõelised suhhumilased pidid mõistma üksteise muresid ja rõõme kõikides keeltes. Aga vahel ka sõnatult.

Pärast kurbi sündmusi 1990. aastate alguses tuli teil kodukandist lahkuda. Kuidas on võõrsil elada?

Pehmelt öeldes ei ole see elu muidugi magus. Ma ei kujutanud ette, et võiksin elada mujal kui oma kodulinnas, sest see linn oli alati täis valgust, nalja ja sooje suhteid, seal hinnati üksteist või, nagu ütlevad suhhumilased, „sõeluti turgu“. Nüüd Thbilisis elades on mul vahel tunne, et ma elan korraga kahes linnas, umbes nagu Thbilisuhhumis.

Rahusobitustöö viib teid tihti Abhaasiasse. Kas on raske minna tagasi oma endisesse koju ja sealt jälle lahkuda?

Algul oli raskem. Ütlesin endale, et peaasi on taastada linna traditsioonid, mis on alati grusiine ja abhaase ühendanud. Ilma usalduseta ja traditsioonide taastamiseta jääb probleem alles. Mulle on Abhaasias viibimine hingekosutus, õnnis vaimne puhkus. Olen väga rõõmus, et mul on säärased sõbrad, kellega koos tunnen, mida tähendab olla tõeline suhhumilane.

Millal tuli äratundmine, et peate kirjutama?

Enne konflikti peamiselt luuletasin. Kirjutama hakkasin juba teises klassis. Peale selle ma joonistasin ja juba õpilasena avaldati mu joonistusi ajakirjades, aga mu luuletused ilmusid natuke hiljem.

Kuidas sündis raamat „Presidendi Kass“? Ja miks just kass? Kuidas te ise kassidesse suhtute? Teil on ju koer.

Thbilisis ilmus 1994. aastal mu lühijutt, mille pealkiri on lihtsalt „Bgažba“. Mihhail Temurovitš Bgažba, kes suri konflikti ajal 75aastaselt, oli Suhhumis koloriitne kuju, ere ja väga populaarne linnafolkloori esindaja. Ta oli rahvuselt abhaas, teda armastasid kõik ja tema armastas kõiki. Kui see jutt oli ilmunud, otsisid inimesed, kes olid Mihhail Temurovitši hästi tundnud, mu üles ja rääkisid mulle rohkesti temaga seotud eksootilisi lugusid. Lugusid oli rääkida küll grusiinidel, küll abhaasidel, kreeklastel ja venelastel … Kokku sai materjali terveks romaaniks, mis ilmuski 2007. aastal.

Romaanis on üks lugu sellest, et Mihhail Temurovitš oli suur loomasõber. Kord leidis ta tänavalt punase kodutu kassi, pesi selle puhtaks ja viis oma lapsepõlvesõbrannale, kes oli pärast poja hukkumist aasta otsa liikumatult voodis lamanud. Mihhail Temurovitš seletas sõbrannale, et ta kingib talle kassi, kelle John Fitzgerald Kennedy oli kunagi isiklikult kinkinud temale, Mihhail Temurovitšile. Ja et see on ravikass, kes peaks olema pidevalt haige läheduses. Sõbranna jäi Mihhail Temurovitši uskuma ja saigi paari kuu pärast terveks, hakkas jälle käima. See lugu näitab ilmekalt, et Mihhail Temurovitš, õilis hing, isegi valetas vahel, aga ainult selleks, et inimesi aidata. Sellepärast valisin ma raamatu pealkirjaks just selle punase Kassi. Vaatamata sellele, et meil endal on koer Daisy (dalmaatslane), armastan ma kasse sama palju kui koeri.

Tänapäeva gruusia kirjanduses ei ole just palju irooniast ja huumorist pakatavaid teoseid. Teie „Presidendi Kassi“ huumoril on mõrumandli kõrvalmaitse. Miks otsustasite kirjutada selle raamatu säärases žanris, eelistada traagiliste sündmuste reportaaž­likule kajastamisele irooniat?

Suhhumilasi iseloomustab eriline huumorimeel. Võib öelda, et see on merehuumor, Musta mere huumor. Sõja pale on hirmsam seal, kus elavad oma ilusat elu erksa naljasoonega inimesed. Minu meelest on sõja õuduste näitamiseks kohane kasutada just huumorit, irooniat ja sarkasmi ning kirjeldada lummavat loodust.

Presidendi Kass“ on tõlgitud paljudesse keeltesse. Kuidas on teosesse suhtunud välismaa lugeja? Kuidas võeti raamat vastu Abhaasias?

Mul on väga hea meel, et konfliktijärgsel territooriumil elavad inimesed, nii abhaa­sid kui ka grusiinid, loevad seda raamatut ühesuguse huviga. Nagu kirjutab üks saksa kriitik: „Presidendi Kass“ on sild grusiinide ja abhaaside vahel. Abhaasi keelde tõlkis raamatu tuntud abhaasi kirjanik, minu sõber Daur Natškebia. Seda raamatut loevad Abhaasias eri põlvkondade inimesed. Mulle teeb head meelt ka tõsiasi, et raamatut saab lugeda rohkem kui kümnes riigis. Selle tõlge ilmub varsti ka Hiinas, Hollandis, Kasahstanis ja Türgis. Ma arvan, et lugejad igatsevad soojade suhete ja huumori järele. Nii on nad „Kassi“ esitlustel öelnud.

Mida tahate öelda eesti lugejatele autorina, kes kirjutab niisugusest paradiislikust maanurgast nagu Abhaasia?

Ma tunnen Eestit hästi, olen elanud nii Tallinnas kui ka Saaremaal. Olen hästi tuttav eesti kirjandusega ja eesti lugeja peene maitsega. Muide, üks esimesi eesti romaane, mida ma nooruses lugesin, oli Mati Undi „Hüvasti, kollane kass“. Olen väga rõõmus, et seesama punakollane kass on jõudnud nüüd eksootilisest Abhaasiast tagasi Eestisse. Ma soovin kõike kõige paremat oma eesti lugejatele, ma armastan neid nii, nagu minu romaani kangelane Mihhail Temurovitš armastas oma kaaslinlasi.

Vene keelest tõlkinud Toomas Kall

Slovakia. Bratislava. “Slovaksky radio” reads a fragment from Guram Odishariya’s novel “The president’s cat”

Gruzínsky autor Guram Odišarija na Slovensku

Guram Odišarija je gruzínsky básnik, prozaik, dramatik a novinár, ktorý je nositeľom významných literárnych ocenení.

V románe Prezidentov kocúr spomína na rodné exotické prímorské mesto Suchumi a jeho ešte exotickejších obyvateľov, na more, čo pení ako pohár šampanského. Ústrednou postavou autorových spomienok (a spomienok mnohých iných ľudí) je Michail Temurovič Bgažba, ktorý sa už počas života stal legendou a súčasťou mestského folklóru – netypický stranícky funkcionár, pôvodne vedec genetik, ktorý rád žil a šíril radosť a klamstvu dal hlboký etický rozmer. Tento človek sa odrazu ocitol uprostred vojnového besnenia. Na pohrebe Michaila Temuroviča sa zúčastnila aj jeho priateľka Zinaida Nikolajevna a v rukách niesla ryšavého kocúra, vnuka prezidentovho kocúra, ktorého Michail Temurovič našiel v kríkoch a dal jej ho so slovami, že je liečivý a že mu ho osobne daroval americký prezident.

Vydavateľstvo SLOVART, Veľvyslanectvo Gruzínska v Slovenskej republike a Artforum vás srdečne pozývajú na večer s Guramom Odišarijom, autorom knihy Prezidentov kocúr.

Tlmočená beseda sa uskutoční v pondelok 23. mája 2016 o 19.00 v bratislavskom Artfore (Kozia 20). Knihu preložila Ivana Kupková, besedu moderuje Dado Nagy.

Knihy týždňa: Romány z Kaukazu o vojne, nádeji a beznádeji

#Prezidentov kocúr #kniha #Kamenné sny #Guram Odišaria #Akram Ajlisli

Ľubor Matejko, slavista a historik | 15.11.2016 16:00

Slovenské preklady kaukazských autorov sú na pultoch našich kníhkupectiev veľkou zriedkavosťou. Teraz tu však máme hneď dva romány autorov z Kaukazu: jeden gruzínsky a jeden azerbajdžanský. Obidva hovoria o vojne a jej dôsledkoch, ale každý celkom inak.

Gruzínska literatúra pre nás už tretie desaťročie prakticky neexistuje. Celkom výnimočnou udalosťou bolo v tomto smere špeciálne číslo Revue svetovej literatúry z roku 2013, do ktorého vybral ukážky gruzínskej poézie a prózy Valerij Kupka. S azerbajdžanskou literatúrou je to podobne, ba vlastne horšie, lebo na sólo číslo RSL ešte len čaká.

Slovenské preklady kaukazských autorov sa tradične robili cez ruštinu a považovalo sa to akosi za normálne, keďže išlo o „sovietsku literatúru“. Sovietsky zväz medzičasom zanikol, ale pokiaľ ide o preklady, nič sa nezmenilo: profesionálnych orientalistov máme málo, turkológov ešte menej a kartvelistov nemáme vôbec. A tak aj Prezidentovho kocúra Gurama Odišariu, aj Kamenné sny Akrama Ajlisliho preložili rusisti. Pravda, nejde tu o klasické preklady z druhej ruky, pretože Ivana Kupková aj Nina Cingerová pracovali s autorizovanými verziami textov.

Prezidentov kocúr ako tichá výčitka s nádejou

Román Gurama Odišariu rozpráva o reálnych príbehoch reálnej historickej postavy: jeho hlavným hrdinom je Michail Bgažba, svojho času prvý tajomník Komunistickej strany Abcházska. Jeho obraz autor kreslí s veľkým zmyslom pre detail, nie však ako obraz všemocného partajného činovníka, ale ako obraz otca abcházskej renesancie počiatku 60. rokov.

Guram Odišaria: Prezidentov kocúr (Slovart, 2015)

Bgažba tu vystupuje v mnohých polohách, no jeho starosti o plnenie päťročných plánov či budovanie komunizmu tu nenájdete, je skôr ľudovým hrdinom a postavičkou mestského folklóru: Bgažba ako iniciátor myšlienky založiť reštaurácie Mercheuli, Ešera a Amra, ktoré sa potom stali kultovými a schádzali sa v nich suchumskí intelektuáli a miestna bohéma. Bgažba ako most medzi Gruzíncami a Abcházcami, ktorý vždy dokáže všetkých zmieriť a dokonca založí Inštitút genetiky, ktorého cieľom je dokázať, že všetko na Kaukaze má spoločný genetický základ. Bgažba ako ten, kto dokáže zo Suchumi urobiť pupok sveta, tvorivý a úsmevne ambiciózny polyhistor, ktorý v Picunde hľadá Aristotelov hrob. Bgažba ako majster prípitkov, Bgažba ako hostiteľ, ku ktorému chodí svet a opíja sa s Fidelom, s Chruščovom, s čínskymi súdruhmi i s japonským miliardárom…

Čítate o Abcházsku, a vôbec nemáte dojem, že vás autor vedie do akéhosi zabudnutého kúta sveta. A ani vám nepripadá absurdné, že z času na čas do deja zasiahne aj kocúr prezidenta J. F. Kennedyho.

Odišariov text je svieži a dáva naplno vyniknúť exotike prostredia a svojráznemu gruzínskemu humoru. Iba občas, celkom nečakane, vás vyruší letmá poznámka typu: to bolo ešte pred vojnou. Keď to autor spraví prvý raz, na chvíľku zaváhate, kým si uvedomíte, že nehovorí o roku 1938, ale o roku 1988. Narážky na vojnu sú potom častejšie, a na konci pochopíte, že všetky tie veselé podrobnosti o živote v sovietskom Suchumi sú tu len preto, aby dokonale vynikla tragickosť vojny, ktorá zmenila Suchumi, Abcházsko aj celé Gruzínsko.

Reštaurácie Ešera a Mercheuli, kedysi plné zábavy, ostali prázdne a mĺkve. Prvá sa ocitla na abcházskej strane barikády, druhá na gruzínskej. A abcházske a gruzínske Grady, ktoré pri nich rozostavili, si namiesto vyberaných vín a jedál navzájom posielali rakety. Bgažba to nevydržal a zomrel, tak sa končí Odišariov román.

Je ako tichá výčitka, pretože aj keď sa už dnes v tejto časti Kaukazu nebojuje, problém ostáva: tisíce opustených domov, desaťtisíce utečencov. Odišaria je jedným z nich. A hoci sa na rozdiel od mnohých iných uchytil v Tbilisi veľmi dobre a donedávna bol dokonca ministrom kultúry, spomienky na domov sa zjavne nevie zbaviť. Keď bol na návšteve Suchumi, pýtali sa ho, či sa pôjde pozrieť na svoj rodný dom. Povedal, že nie, že videl Karabach, Baku, Jerevan, severný Kaukaz a všade to bolo rovnaké. „Ak nedôjde k zmiereniu, je celkom jedno, či tam ten dom stojí, alebo nestojí… Národy Kaukazu sa nemajú kam odsťahovať, musia teda svoj problém vyriešiť.“ Odišaria verí, že sa tak stane: „Nádej mi vlieva to, že mám v Abcházsku priateľa, ktorý sa stará o hrob môjho otca.“

Kamenné sny ako rekviem, lebo už nie sú ani hroby

Kamenné sny napísal Ajlisli pred viac ako desiatimi rokmi, ale s vydaním váhal až do roku 2012. Aj Ajlisli hovorí o dôsledkoch vojny, o reálnych udalostiach a reálnych osobách z azerbajdžansko-arménskeho pohraničia, a aj on je „politicky nekorektný“, hoci inak ako Odišaria. Je vážny a v hľadaní historických paralel medzi dnešnou nenávisťou k Arménom a nenávisťou spred 100 rokov je veľmi, veľmi smutný. Vojna a jej dôsledky v Ajlisliho rodisku prekročili kritickú hranicu. Aj tu nacionalistický ošiaľ zabíjal a vyhnal z domovov tisíce a tisíce ľudí. Na rozdiel od Abcházska tu však buldozéry odpratali aj svedectvá o prítomnosti Arménov vyryté do kamenných náhrobkov. Genocída zasiahla aj mŕtvych. Preto má rekviem názov Kamenné sny.

V žánri beletristiky si Ajlisli dovoľuje to, čo by si historik dovoliť nemohol: zobrazuje brutalitu Azerbajdžancov a dovoľuje si nezmieniť sa o násilí zo strany Arménov. Ak by bol autorom takéhoto textu Armén, kniha by bola len jedným z mnohých príspevkov k vojnovej propagande. Napísal ju však spisovateľ, ktorý má významné miesto v dejinách modernej azerbajdžanskej kultúry, a tak ju možno vnímať ako románovú spoveď, gesto pokánia a literárnu výzvu spoločnosti. Výzvu na vyrovnanie sa s vlastnou minulosťou. Výzvu na dosiahnutie zmierenia medzi dvoma kaukazskými národmi, ktoré sa zmietajú vo vzájomnej nenávisti, no ktoré sa – povedané s Odišariom – nemajú kam odsťahovať. Tí, ktorým je výzva adresovaná, však zjavne žijú v inom historickom čase. Ajlisli ho predbehol a ostal nepochopený.

Jeho spoveď vyvolala v Arménsku nadšenie a v Azerbajdžane – obrovské pobúrenie. Vyhlásili ho za zradcu národa, obvinili z „falšovania dejín“, jeho knihy zakázali a verejne pálili na námestiach. Jeho tvorbu vyškrtli z učebných osnov. Osobitným prezidentským dekrétom ho zbavili štátnej penzie.

V apríli tohto roka mal ísť do Benátok na literárny festival a krátko nato si mal v Bratislave prevziať Visegrádsku literárnu cenu Východného partnerstva 2015. Napriek tomu, že mal platné vízum, na letisku ho s kufrom v ruke zastavili. Vyše osemdesiatročného muža obvinili z výtržníckeho správania pri pasovej kontrole, zhabali mu doklady a pod zámienkou vyšetrovania ho zrejme nepustia už nikdy nikam. A, žiaľ, ani v susednom Arménsku sa zatiaľ nenašiel intelektuál, ktorý by ukázal odvahu urobiť pokánie v mene „svojich“.

[1] Mingrelians – Georgians living in the region of Samegrelo, western Georgia, bordering Abkhazia.

Leonid Terakopyan, Writer, Literary critic, Deputy editor-in-chief of the Friendship of Peoples magazine


Excerpts From the Article

“Always Together. Or Forever Apart? “

Notes on the Margins of the Book of Short Stories “Time to Live” by South Caucasian Writers

…Having taken up arms to avenge his father, Georgian soldier Valery, the protagonist of Guram Odisharia’s short story “The Nephew,” is carrying a tiny Abkhazian baby out of a burning house. And who knows whether it is Valery who rescues the baby, or the baby who saves the man, taken prisoner near the smoldering ashes of buildings. Saves both from the wrath of Abkhazian bearded vultures and his own self, tormented by hopelessness and fallen into apathy and indifference: “Betrayal. Betrayal from the country, the government, the past, the present, the future, and life itself. This child is the only thing that remains.”

The eyes of a newborn (“The Nephew” by G. Odisharia), the eyes of a teenager (“The Boy and the War” by F. Iskander), the eyes of the holy fool Vova (“Shootable Space” by K. Dzugaev)… so trusting, so genuine, expecting neither deceit nor trickery, simultaneously helpless and pleading for help.

Titled “Time to Live,” the book became a meeting point for Abkhazian, Georgian, Armenian, South Ossetian, and Azerbaijani writers (the idea was conceived and coordinated by two writers, Guram Odisharia and Abkhaz Batal Kobakhia). 

The book has a programmatical, controversial, and daring title. Choose life over death, building over destruction, harmony over conflict. “Time to Live” is an attempt to find common understanding and to recreate, if not a sense of community, then a sense of joint responsibility for the future. To tell the truth, the book that inspired these notes was left entirely out of the critical spotlight. No articles, no reviews – dead calm. Oh, so typical! Critical debates would go on endlessly if there were a scandal to break out, a stylishly concealed artistic controversy, or a potential best-seller to come out. But now – no fuss at all.

This book is not merely a collection of stories but an act that required from its authors and compilers courage, citizenship, objectivity, and deep comprehension of what is happening with society, with people, with all of us. Literature seems to be returning to its original purpose – understanding and protecting. 

The Magazine “Friendship of Peoples”

 2005, # 11

Devi Putkaradze, Writer, Journalist, Editor-in-chief of the “Abkhaz Meridian” newspaper


about Guram Odisharia’s novel “The President’s Cat”

There were no unconcerned attendees at a discussion of Guram Odisharia’s new novel, “The President’s Cat,” in the overcrowded assembly hall of the literary magazine “Our Literature.”

I have seen a good many discussions of this kind – where everyone is on their own; the audience is bored, and the speakers are just phoning it in. 

But it was different here. The audience actively engaged with the orators, agreeing, disagreeing, and reflecting on their speeches. The hall empathized.


Because a skillful, creative interpretation of lifetime truths leaves no room for indifference. Moreover, it brings people together.

This lively participation was due not only to Guram Odisharia’s reputation as one of the brightest and most talented Georgian authors.

There was also another reason.

Despite all the external manifestations of confrontation, the Georgian society has developed a growing, perhaps even intuitive, and unconscious interest in Abkhazia, its past, present, and its most prominent representatives. Furthermore, the romanticization of the past and the sense of nostalgia do not lose their grip over the years but gradually crystalize around our lives.

In the preface to his book, Guram Odisharia writes:

“I would love the book to be sharp, like the smell of the sea, pleasant, like birdsong, light, like a cheerful feast, like a game of champagne, like an anecdote told by Mikhail Timurovich, bright, colorful, like a summer beach, and thrilling, like the laughter of a beauty….”

The book has exceeded the author’s expectations. 

“The most important thing is not to lose the light of bygone days” is another phrase from the foreword. The novel abundantly exudes such light.

And let the critics argue whether it is a postmodernist work or the novel belongs to some other “ism.” It is written skillfully and thoughtfully, and that is what matters.

Once again, “The President’s Cat” proved that Guram Odisharia rightfully takes his place at the forefront of Georgian prose masters. The verbal virtuoso meticulously and thoroughly thinks out every single word. His series of metaphors are original and unique. Abkhazia’s sky, sea, and mountains become part of an animated world and turn into living beings. They feel, experience, and live.

I must say a few words about Guram Odisharia’s personality here. Say in a simple and unsophisticated manner. A bad person could never write a novel like “The President’s Cat.” His entirely different worldview boundaries would not allow him to.

Guram Odisharia is a very good person. His personality traits are not only echoed in his books but also in his ideological position and peacemaking activity as a humanist author. His works unite rather than divide people. 

Therefore, it is quite natural that at one of the Georgian-Abkhaz meetings, Guram Odisharia’s Abkhaz colleague told him, “Guram, you are not only a Georgian writer but a Sukhumi writer. Do not forget this.”

“The President’s Cat” has not yet been published as a standalone book, but the novel has already gained widespread popularity.

After all, as Mikhail Timurovich claimed, the cat has healing powers. And it has been proven to us, my dear readers, that this is indeed true. 

And, maybe, the cat will help, at least a little, to soften the bitterness in people’s souls and to narrow the strip of alienation between them; so that we can rightfully say to each other,

 “Peace to your home!”

Abkhaz Meridian


Soso Chumburidze, Writer, Literary critic, Doctor of philology, Professor


An excerpt from the foreword to the first Georgian edition of Guram Odisharia’s novel “The President’s Cat”

Where does the writer begin? “Everything should begin with an introduction.” I, too, will follow this “commandment” of the greatest Georgian (Ilia Chavchavadze), although I very much wanted to begin from the end and say what I was so itching to say. More precisely, I yearned to talk about the novel’s finale, which per se serves as a standalone story on the theme of “war and the city” or “war in Sokhumi.” This part of the book describes Sokhumi in the early morning of 14 August 1992, when “the sea breeze shuddered into every open window like a pigeon but this time – a wounded one.” “Some were drinking tea, some – heading to work, some were already sleeping in the shadows of magnolias in the coastline garden, some were enjoying the sea. And some…. Nobody has been able to understand how the war crept up on, slipped, rattled, and thundered into the city….” In the following lines, the author describes how some woman called the fire department, saying, “Help, there is a tank burning in front of my house,” and how some other woman thought the tanks would not enter her street (Lakoba Street), avoiding one-way traffic.

Guram Odisharia then writes, “Very soon, the war completely evaporated the one-way streets and engulfed the entire city.” And just below, we read, “The city lost its color and sound. The sea – its ability to think loudly.” Then, “Even in silence, the lonely moon failed to gather strength.” Then, “The songbirds and seagulls escaped the city. Only sparrows and doves turned out ‘warproof.’” Then, “Practicing shooting, drunk soldiers killed dogs, cats, pigeons, and – each other.” Then, “Not a single woman’s body uttered, ‘Tomorrow the sun will rise.’” When I say the novel’s finale is a standalone story, I mean it as a compliment. I wanted to emphasize that the writer has overcome the challenges of both novels and short stories. But in all, the chapter mentioned above is an organic part of the novel and cannot be pulled out from the book. The protagonist – Mikheil Bgazhba – is also the principal character in this part of the novel. Three months after the outburst of the war, he tells his friend, Soso Kapanadze, “Although I was wounded twice during WWII, I have never had such a feeling. It is as if I were on another planet. What is happening to me? Help me, Sosik.”

On the first day of 1993, he tells the same Soso Kapanadze, “I cannot endure this. I will breathe my last breath after the Twelfth Night.” His words turned out true. And here we read the strongest passage, “On the seventh day of Epiphany, he clearly heard how his last bird, trembling in a cage, desperately complained to God, ‘the planet does not only belong to humans.’ It very much sounded like a complaint. Moreover, it was a complaint.” This bird was his last interlocutor. He has not said a word since – the bird died. The last thing he heard was the dead bird’s voice, “Open your eyes.” He opened his eyes and saw God. He was astounded. He never imagined that God would look like this. The next morning, he was found dead, side-lying on the floor next to his bed, clutching into a burka, and smiling. Later, three seeds were found in his pants pocket. Unknown seeds. Maybe of a flower or maybe of a tree.

The day of his funeral was sunny. Later, the moon peeked out. Until the very dawn, the purr of ginger cats of Sokhumi licked the moon, which that night looked unusually different.

“The moon resembled the President’s cat.” I firmly believe that any distinguished writer (for example, Marquez) could proudly sign under such a finale.

I am thrilled that the finale and the novel itself were penned by none other than the Georgian author Guram Odisharia.

Publishing house “Merani.”


Devi Putkaradze, Writer, Journalist, Editor-in-chief of the “Abkhazh Meridian” newspaper



Before the war, readers and literary critics considered Guram Odisharia one of the generation’s brightest and most talented poets. The lines of his sunny, joyful compositions intertwined not with rhyme but with the music of the word, their inner energy, the breath of love for his native city – Sukhumi – and the sea, the waves of which engendered his poetry. An original, creative persona, Guram Odisharia was making his first steps in Abkhazia’s poetic scene. But the war came and killed the poet in him. It killed the poet but not the poetry, which was later revived in Odisharia’s prose.

Any author’s creative path is inextricably linked with the time in which he lives. This is true whether the writer works on fantasy novels or the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey.” Odisharia’s oeuvre is a snapshot, a distinctive part of the modern Georgian society’s encyclopedia of life. But it is not merely an indistinctive, passive attempt to reflect our being but an active desire to influence it and our society’s spiritual and moral development. This is the purpose of Guram Odisharia’s publicism. In his literary essay “Defeated Before the War,” we encounter the following lines:

“Since its inception, Georgia, like any other country, has been destined for an eternal war – a war against itself. The war of spirituality against despiritualization, goodness against evil, loyalty against treason, wisdom against ignorance, and love against hatred…. And, just as no one will ever run away from himself, Georgia will never escape this war, its eternal companion. And, unless Georgia wins its original war, we can never triumph in any other battle. We have succumbed in the spiritual, moral war with ourselves. The destruction of Georgia began with the destruction of its soul” … Unfortunately, these words, written and first printed back in April 1994, still hold true today….

But now, let’s focus on something else. Only a tremendous public figure boundlessly in love with his people and country could devise such words. They were first spoken by Merab Mamardashvili, the greatest Georgian philosopher of the 20th century, and are now spoken by Guram Odisharia. It is only by fully understanding the meaning of these words that we can win the war with ourselves.

“Planet of Alienation” is Guram Odisharia’s collection of articles. The book collects some of the writer’s diary entries from 1997 to 2007. The author’s concise, aphoristic discourse alternates with the descriptions of significant life episodes, unexpectedly revealing the deep essence of seemingly ordinary facts. The entire book succinctly highlights the author’s public philosophy and ideological pathos. … “We often have to be ‘very each other’” … “Sometimes I am more of an Abkhaz than a Georgian, more of an Ossetian, Russian, American” … “The moral integrity of a country is much more important than its territorial integrity” … “Our motherland is what we are today… and the motherland of our children will be what our children make it….” … “I am not afraid to speak about the mistakes, shame, and crimes of the authorities of my country. I am more afraid of staying silent.” And these are not just plain words – this is the humanist author’s moral position. But why the title “Planet of Alienation?” Alienation from what? Alienation of the author’s “Planet” from stupidity, foolishness, rudeness, lies, false patriotism, and, in general, from any “malady” corrupting the human in a person.

Guram Odisharia’s publicism is very extensive and diverse. And although we cannot cover everything, it is simply impossible not to mention his latest book of this genre, “Georgia, Tbilisi, Rustaveli Avenue.” A stiff protest against war and violence that defile the human soul, this work is an anthem for love and all the kindness and goodness inherent in us. In the book, the author conveys his life philosophy and creative approach concisely and firmly, using only one phrase:

“We will never be truly free until we learn to take others’ pain as close to our hearts as our own.” The collection, “Georgia, Tbilisi, Rustaveli Avenue,” was published in Frankfurt (Germany) in 2018. The city has been illustrious for its rich book traditions since ancient times.

And here is another thing to consider. Guram Odisharia’s publicism is not merely a testimony of his literary merits but a continuation of his peacemaking activity. Odisharia is a Peace Ambassador for the “International Peace Federation” and one of the co-founders of “Caucasian Dialogue,” an international non-governmental organization covering the entire territory of the South Caucasus. The writer travels to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. And, no matter where he is, he always focuses on humans. The book “Time to Live” is primarily the fruit of these trips. Odisharia, who initiated the publication of this collection, was also one of its creators. For the very first time, the book brought together the works of writers from conflicting regions. The publication of the collection “Time to Live” was soon followed by the release of the “South Caucasus” almanac. Odisharia became co-editor and one of the most active initiators of this publication too. Guram Odisharia equally shared all the hardships of this complex, often challenging work with the prominent Abkhaz public figure Batal Kobakhia.

Odisharia’s literary and musical events in Batumi, Kutaisi, and Georgia’s other regions are always sold out. 

And here is one more thing to mention. Guram Odisharia considers any Abkhaz visiting Tbilisi or any other Georgian city as his own guest.

Recently, Guram Odisharia established the “New Vision – New Horizons” peace organization and gathered a group of modern-minded people around him.

Does this active peacemaking work harm the essential aspect of Odisharia’s life – his artistic creativity? The writer’s answer is no. On the contrary, it helps and enriches it. After all, Odisharia’s creative attention revolves around human beings – humans in the modern world. This focus on people perfectly explains why Odisharia’s work is imbued with such a sense of peacemaking. 

Guram Odisharia is always an innovator in his oeuvre.

The hall where the presentation of Guram Odisharia’s new novel “Togetherwithoutyou” took place was overcrowded with spectators. The audience members stood in the aisles between the chairs. There were different kinds of people. Some were Odisharia’s colleagues, and others were mere admirers of his talent. Also, among the spectators were Guram Odisharia’s compatriots who left Abkhazia just like the author. For them, perhaps Guram Odisharia and his work is the only emotional thread with the lost joy of the old, pre-war happy life.

“Togetherwithoutyou.” What is the novel about? About love and human loneliness. A vast and boundless world of solitude, so simple, so clear, and simultaneously so incomprehensible. With you, without you, my Abkhazia! With you, without you, my life! A verbal virtuoso, Odisharia strikes a spark of inspiration from any literary work. Often touching on deeply personal, intimate moments from the protagonists’ lives, the author turns deeply personal experiences into a socially significant phenomenon. It is my deep conviction that this novel will have a happy and long life. What is this confidence based on? Guram Odisharia highlights, “exposes,” and draws out all the good inherent in people; the good, not the bad. Such an approach requires not only a creative but also a miraculous human gift. All his books, especially “With You Without You,” set an example of inner empathy, affinity, and moral or, if you may, human compassion for the fate of protagonists.

Recently, the writer returned from his trip to China, where he attended the presentation of his novel “The President’s Cat.” For more than ten years now, this “Cat” has been proudly striding around the world, effortlessly crossing the borders of different countries and continents. The novel has been translated into seventeen languages. In some countries, the book has been published twice. And day by day, the “Cat” is gaining momentum. Just think! Readers of more than one and a half billion China began to acquaint themselves with the novel! And here arises a question: why did the personality and fate of the novel’s protagonist, Mikhail Timurovich Bgazhba, although a quite unique person from distant little Abkhazia, suddenly acquire such universal, ecumenical significance? People yearn for love, fantasies of spiritual generosity, and unusual, extraordinary humor in our harsh and rational world. Mikhail Timurovich Bgazhba, an Abkhaz politician, superb scientific thinker, and Epicurean with a unique life philosophy and kindness comparable to Baron Munchausen’s, has become familiar and relatable to people all over the world in his singularity. Suddenly, through his persona, readers began to discern their own national particularities… as if they wanted to “connect with this Abkhaz.”

This is of course very surprising and perhaps even logical. If so, there is also some logic in another seemingly surprising fact.

In the post-war years, Guram Odisharia traveled to many countries. And wherever he was, he always looked for and eventually found similarities with Abkhazia. He discovered a corner of old Gagra on the legendary island of Rhodes; he found a typical Sukhumi landscape in distant Thailand’s exotic capital Bangkok. This happened to him in other countries as well. Is it nostalgia or something else? After all, he even built a small dacha on the Black Sea coast, in Kaprovani, next to a pine grove, which, although very faintly, resembles the relic pines of Pitsunda. And yet, how small is our surrounding world in the infinitely diverse world of a creatively gifted individual.

Guram Odisharia is both a big admirer of painting and a talented painter. His works of art can easily excite the jealousy of even professional graphic artists. No wonder he illustrates many of his books himself. The illustrations for the novel “The President’s Cat” marked a new stage in Odisharia’s creative search. Its deliberately simple cover design captures the philosophy of the novel surprisingly well. Such a harmonious unity of the text and book design is extremely rare.

Guram Odisharia translated into Georgian the novel of one of the best modern Abkhaz prose writers Daur Nachkebia, “Night Shore.” Daur Nachkebia, in turn, made, by all accounts, an excellent Abkhazian translation of Guram Odisharia’s novel “The President’s Cat.”

Ever since his student years, Guram Odisharia had a strong friendship with Daur Zantaria, an Abkhazian writer, who left us so early and unexpectedly. Zantaria’s work went down in the history of Abkhazian and foreign fiction as a bright and original phenomenon of the past decades. Guram translated many of his short stories into Georgian, including one of his last masterpieces, “The Eye of the Needle.”

Is there any other Georgian writer that can boast of such a close creative relationship with his Abkhaz colleagues?

Unfortunately, not. Sad as it sounds, Guram Odisharia is the only Georgian writer whose books are stored in the Abkhaz State Library. “The President’s Cat” is the only Georgian novel written after the Georgian-Abkhazian armed conflict, translated into the Abkhazian, and widely read in Abkhazia.

In this regard, there is one episode I would like to mention. A year after the Russian-Georgian war of 2008, I visited Abkhazia with Guram Odisharia. At the Sukhumi airport, from where we flew to Tbilisi on a UN plane, a young Abkhaz in an officer’s uniform approached Guram, introduced himself, and started talking about one of Guram Odisharia’s short stories. When he left, Guram told me, “Listen, I don’t even remember all the details of the work he was asking me about.”

There is also another episode stuck in my head. We were standing at a taxi stand, trying to take the first cab in the line – a shabby Zhiguli; but we were not allowed to – the drivers were heatedly arguing about something in Abkhazian. Then the Volga drove up, and the driver told us, “You can get into this car.” They recognized Guram. I have no other explanation for this.

Guram Odisharia actively participates in the most authoritative international cultural forums, conferences, peacekeeping meetings, and presentations of his books in foreign countries. And wherever he is, he always talks about Abkhazia. No matter how pathetic it may sound, I will still say it. After Fazil Iskander, not a single writer has contributed to the popularization of Abkhazia as much as Guram Odisharia. Name at least one writer whose book about Abkhazia was translated and printed in almost 20 countries worldwide. And I am talking about the entire post-Soviet period – nearly 30 years. From this point of view, Guram Odisharia is a new phenomenon both in Georgia’s social life and its literary world. And moment by moment, the author and his creative oeuvre cross the boundaries of the purely Georgian cultural phenomenon and acquire an international, supranational scope. 

Supranational not only in terms of the raised problems but also in terms of their treatment. One may wonder why Guram Odisharia pioneered the Abkhaz theme in Georgian literature. Why he? Don’t we have other God-gifted authors? Of course, we do. And here, the words of one of Guram’s Abkhaz friends come to mind, “He is one of us, he is indigenous, he is from Sukhumi.”

Any creative persona is defined by his roots. Guram Odisharia’s roots are embedded in Abkhazia. The light of Odisharia’s heart shines from his books. Spreading wider and wider around the world, they “conquer” more and more territories, sow faith in human beauty and love, and thus, help us navigate the future.

Abkhazian Meridian,

2019. December.

Rostom Chkheidze, Writer, Literary critic, Doctor of philology, Professor


about Guram Odisharia’s Novel the “Black Sea Ocean”

Guram Odisharia’s “Black Sea Ocean” is a postmodern, richly significant novel both in form and content.

The question about the essence of the “postmodern novel” has long been controversial and is yet to be answered even in its origin country, where the term has up to 300 definitions. And although you may not be aware of the correct answer, you can still fully perceive all the emotional intensity of the “Black Sea Ocean.”

Guram Odisharia’s novel is a unique example of Georgian postmodernism. At the very beginning of the book, the protagonist meets a writer who shares his intention of composing a novel that would draw upon the main topic, a variety of documentary materials, newspaper clippings, and tv shows. This episode seems to have nothing to do with the main story, but, in fact, it is profoundly intertwined with the plotline. At first, it appears as though the protagonist and the writer are different people when per se they are one and the same. The novel that the writer conceived was the “Black Sea Ocean.”

“Morning Newspaper”


Igor Bondar-Tereshchenko, Art critic, journalist, especially for Styler


The ten best Ukrainian translations of foreign books were recently revealed in Kyiv:

Michel Houellebecq “Submission” (Kh.: Folio), Patrik Ouředník “Europeana” (L.: Izdatel’stvo Starogo L’va), Guram Odisharia “Rain Expected in Sukhum” (L.: Izdatel’stvo Anetty Antonenko), Basile Giambattista “Tale of Fairy Tales,” Chuck Palahniuk “Beautiful You” (Kh.: Klub Semeynogo Dosuga), Emir Kusturica “One Hundred Troubles” (SPb.: Azbuka), Enrique Vila-Matas “Dublinesca” (M.: Eksmo), Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan “Time of the Heart,” – “The Andy Warhol Diaries” (М.: Ad Marginem i Muzey sovremennogo iskusstva “Garazh”), Terry Gilliam “Gilliamesque” (M.: AST: CORPUS).

Guram Odisharia’s “Rain Expected in Sukhumi” (L.: Izdatel’stvo Anetty Antonenko). Translated by Raul Chilachava.

This book is a collection of poems and short stories penned by a man who literally lost everything during the recent war in Abkhazia and now shares the riches of his memories. His homeland lives in the depths of his subconscious.

The author’s short stories are filled with regular excursions into the past. For example, it is raining in Tbilisi, but it is not the same rain as in Sukhumi. Do you get the point?


15 December 2015

Anastasiya Slovinskaya, Journalist   


 Guram Odisharia: “His inspiration was Sukhumi.”

 Guram Odisharia refers to the recently deceased Fazil Iskander as his mentor. They both hail from Sukhumi, a city Odisharia says inspired their oeuvre. Guram Odisharia has yet to learn to talk about his mentor in the past tense.

A.S.: Batono Guram, you said that Fazil Iskander was, in some sense, your mentor. What was the most powerful lesson he taught you?

G.O.: Sukhumi residents have always been different. We had peculiar, extremely warm, “nautical” kind of relations. Maritime cities are like women – incredibly beautiful. The pink dawn, the white snow, the evergreen trees…. Very feminine…. Fazil masterly describes this atmosphere. For the very first time, he mentioned “a black sea character,” and indeed, such a character exists. Thanks to Fazil, as a young boy, I learned how to write, build phrases, and describe. Fazil can be christened as a marine writer because of his unique prose. For example, the author vividly portrays the pervading tone of local coffee houses, or “brekhalovkas,” as we usually call them. Scattered across the city, such coffee houses served as a gathering place for people of different nationalities and professions. Imagine a machinist or professor exchanging jokes over a cup of coffee. This type of maritime democracy is hardly ever felt in other cities. Then, Fazil portrays the charm of the entire atmosphere and describes visitors relaxing by the sea. These people are not like others – their moods and aura are different. They often meet in coffee houses and talk peacefully and nicely over a glass of wine. Living and working in this city implied, above other things, sharing leisure time with the visitors. In his works, Fazil masterly captures the originality of Sukhumi. As a young writer, I absorbed a great deal from him, and I attempted to supplement this learning with my original ideas.

August 01, 2016

Inga Milorava, Literary critic, Doctor of philology, Professor of Shota Rustaveli Institute of Georgian Literature


Although Georgian artistic space is rich in remarkable works on the painful theme of Abkhazia, Guram Odisharia’s “Return to Sukhumi” rightfully ranks as the most memorable and noteworthy book among them.

Every war needs its own ‘Guernica’ so that its terrible face can be distinctly felt even by those who have not experienced its horror and were born after the war.

Guram Odisharia’s book harmoniously synthesizes the harshest and the ugliest reality with a tearful, tender, childishly pure, and innocent perception of the world.

The mountain pass was far from the end of the suffering for the refugees. The path of the crucified people was transmitted into a new reality, stretching endlessly like a long desert road of a thirsty wanderer. One of the chapters, “Beria’s House” (this symbolic image, a metastasis from the past, resurfaces in other parts of the book as well), portrays unbearable loneliness: a man utterly lost and homeless in a big city where death is his only companion (“A Bread Shop,” “A Crow’s Temple”). And while the idea of death is already horrible enough, human coldness, the ice of the heart, and the soul-eating emptiness exacerbate this feeling, making it a hundred times more terrifying.

One of the chapters, “Pathoanatomic Department,” captures death in an unimaginable, horrifying spectacle of the IDPs’ dwelling. A beautiful woman from Sokhumi, a mother who left her home, peace, and a happy abode somewhere far away, in the smoke and blood of war, is breathing her last breath. There is no other option for her resting place but the pathoanatomic department of one of the hospitals. Dismembered body parts, organs, and pathological exhibits are surrounded by people shaken by the loss of their loved ones, for whom this scene would have been inconceivable only a short time ago. The IDPs have been robbed of even the sublime painful beauty of mourning. This is how Tbilisi welcomed the refugees.

Guram Odisharia’s tragic and painful world has a distinctive feature – the author desperately clings to the tiniest seeds of kindness, appreciates and envelopes small sources of warmth, and heartened, engenders more considerable and hopeful warmth in his artistic text.

The book’s protagonist (the author himself) tries to avoid a painful space, but how can a person escape when the face of his dead father haunts him through the window of an airplane? And he will again embrace his homeland, gutted today but so dearly his own, in the hopes of which he will live, think, and create.

No matter how painful the story he describes or how critical he may be of the events, Guram Odisharia cannot be touched by hatred. This is his natural state.

The writer still loves his hometown and its inhabitants, irrespective of their race. Odisharia aimed this book at love and reconciliation, the novel’s most significant merit, apart from its masterful portrayal of deep and refined artistic images.

The author believes restoring territorial integrity should not be considered the fundamental policy objective. The return of the lost land of Abkhazia will not be enough. Restoring human relationships is what Odisharia firmly believes is of foremost importance.

In the book, Guram Odisharia wins Abkhazia back with a loving heart.

He wins his lost homeland in the sensory and verbal fields. What matters here is a person, his feelings, human relations, the sense of inner integrity, and the search to restore the relationship between the opposing parties.

From 1995 to 2000, the book was issued five times. It indeed serves and, with time, will serve even more as a fictional bridge for people stuck on different sides of the conflict.

Guram Odisharia’s novel brings people back to Sukhumi, back to their brothers, back to love and friendship.

The Magazine “Our Literature”


Yana Amelina, Journalist.


“We lost the war because we started it,” Guram Odisharia, a former Sukhumi resident, writer, and author of the book “Return to Sukhumi,” is desperately looking for the road back home. “We treated the Abkhazians as if they were not ‘one of us.’ The news about the capture of Sukhumi sounded very much like that of Berlin.” Guram Odisharia’s book, telling the story of the pre-war city and the friendship with the Abkhazians, was not well received in Tbilisi. “I was almost persecuted for it,” recalls the author. “There was a huge void between the book and the Georgian politics of the time.”

But, after reading the Russian translation of the book, the Abkhazians said they were ready to sit down at a negotiation table with Guram Odisharia. And so, since 1997, Odisharia has been participating in unofficial talks between the two parties of the conflict. His mood is pessimistic.

“The chronic conflict is periodically exacerbated by the Gali events of 1998 and the Kodjori events of 2001,” says Odisharia. “Shevardnadze and Ardzinba were personal enemies. Hopefully, this will not be the case with the new leaders. Bagapsh and Saakashvili could defuse the situation. Though, so far, their official statements are not exactly promising…. But I still believe they will figure out a solution and people will follow their leaders, as they always do. Both the Georgians and the Abkhazians are tired of all this.” But the myopic politicians look for solutions in the wrong places. “There is a well-known Georgian stereotype that the US will help us, we’ll settle the issue with Russia, and Abkhazia will be ours,” says Odisharia sadly. “But it is the Abkhazians and the Georgians who need to come to an agreement. Otherwise, if the politicians suddenly reach a consensus, and the society is not ready, the conflict will continue for ages.”

Together with his colleagues from the Caucasian Forum of Non-Governmental Organizations, Guram Odisharia is trying to bring the Georgians and Abkhazians closer together. He and his Abkhaz colleague, Batal Kobakhia, released a collection of works by authors from five South Caucasian republics. “During WWII, Soviet radio played music by German composers, emphasizing that we were at war not with the German people but with fascism,” explains Odisharia. “We, the Georgian side, messed up a lot during the war, and now we must sow the seeds of kindness to rebuild the bridges we burned together.”

“By kindness, I imply conducting dialogues between the parties of the conflict, organizing public meetings, overcoming politicians, making them consider our opinion, and uniting our readers.” However, the lack of effective political technologies has hampered the attempts to influence governmental decisions through the means mentioned above. “I am not sure if this will grow into a social movement,” Guram Odisharia soberly assesses the prospects for people’s diplomacy.

Not everyone can acknowledge the efforts of non-governmental organizations. Both sides often accuse NGOs of ‘negotiating with enemies’ for money. It cannot be accurately stated either that peaceful politics is popular among ordinary people. The author is convinced “it is too early to assume that many Abkhazians wish to become part of Georgia again.” “Let’s not lie to ourselves. The more sophisticated Georgian politics will get, the greater the number of willing Abkhazians there will be. Though unfortunately, the situation has not reached that point yet. We need to fill the vacuum of trust. There are still some chances to be taken.” But objectively, the chances are getting smaller and smaller. “Young people have different views, different sentiments,” Guram Odisharia looks at things soberly. “Those who fought do not want to fight anymore, but the rising generation is yearning for revenge. Man, in fact, is an aggressive creature. Look at our history – war after war, and the next generation can quickly unleash it. Anything can happen.”

Last year, Guram Odisharia visited Sukhumi for the first time after the war. The city he dreamt of returning to no longer exists and never will. “I returned from Sukhumi with a heavy impression,” says the writer. “The old Sukhumi faded into the past. It cannot be restored, nor it should be.” Abkhazia’s capital is in a deplorable state. “But wasn’t it the Georgians who burnt down the ‘Apsny’ cinema?” Odisharia reminds us. “Didn’t the Georgian Guards Army destroy the ‘Ritsa’ hotel …? We will be in the right only when we admit to our mistakes – mistakes that very much look like crimes. And when politicians start harping on the same old thing, ‘We are right, we will break in there by force,’ they should understand that this is impossible.” But there is no such understanding. “Twelve years have passed, and our society still lives with its head in the clouds, ‘we will now reclaim Abkhazia.'” The situation is a dead end, the author admits. “My home means nothing to me if the Georgians and the Abkhazians don’t understand each other,” concludes Odisharia. “But there is no ground for optimism…. I will return only when my friends say, ‘Guram, come back to your city.’ It is a mere illusion to believe that all refugees will return. Maybe even I will not go back. Maybe, I am needed here more than anywhere else.”         

 Rosbalt, top news