The Eighth Life review: czars, communism and misery

Nino Haratischvili’s novel is a linear and engrossing family tale of Georgia

Nino Haratischvili: has written  a long, rewarding novel, written in clear, unadorned prose which is distinctly pre-modernist.

Nino Haratischvili: has written a long, rewarding novel, written in clear, unadorned prose which is distinctly pre-modernist.

Early in Nino Haratischvili’s compelling, multigenerational, century-long novel, The Eighth Life, Niza, the narrator, tells us about the unique characteristics of Georgia, the country in which much of the novel is set.

To be a proper Georgian, certain traditions should be adhered to: “Don’t cause any trouble . . . Live as your parents lived . . . Be bright and cheerful . . . Never be unfaithful to your man, and if your man is unfaithful to you, forgive him, for he is a man. Live first and foremost for others. Because, in any case, others always know better than you what’s good for you.” There is no further mention of these traits, but the rest of the novel subtly refutes the idea that anyone – most of all the many women who are central to the novel – should ever behave in such a manner.

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