The Eighth Life: (for Brilka) (Paperback)
  • The Eighth Life: (for Brilka) (Paperback)

The Eighth Life: (for Brilka) (Paperback)

(author), (translator), (translator)
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Paperback 944 Pages
Published: 12/11/2020
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Longlisted for the International Booker Prize 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Publisher: Scribe Publications
ISBN: 9781913348298
Number of pages: 944
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 56 mm


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

‘The Eighth Life … is a lavish banquet of family stories that can, for all their sorrows, be devoured with gluttonous delight. Nino Haratischvili’s characters … come to exuberant life. Her huge novel … shows a double face, its crushing pain and loss nonetheless conveyed with an artful storyteller’s sheer joy in her craft.’ - Boyd Tonkin, The Financial Times

‘It is an ambitious undertaking, but the author retains a firm grasp on her material and knows exactly how she wishes to present the human cost and consequences to a family facing war and colliding ideologies … I finished by applauding the vision, boldness and passionate commitment.’ - Elizabeth Buchan, Daily Mail

‘An epic read that will leave you 100% satisfied.’ - Stylist

‘Elegant ... It is a triumph of both authorship and painstaking translation ... The Eighth Life is an unforgettable love letter to Georgia and the Caucasus, to lives led and to come, and to writing itself.’ - Catherine Taylor, The Economist

‘Elegant … it demonstrates a technical mastery, impressively sustained … The Eighth Life is more than a family saga: it is an ode, a lamentation, a monument – to Georgia, its people, its past and future.’ - Bryan Karetnyk, TLS

‘The Eighth Life is capacious, voluble, urgent, readable, translated heroically and sparklingly by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin.’ - Julian Evans, The Telegraph

‘This is a long, rewarding novel … ably translated through a collaborative process. It makes for an engrossing book. Haratischvili has created a fascinating cast (and it’s easy to imagine it as a television series) whose lives illuminate some of the greatest events of the 20th century.’ - Declan O’Driscoll, The Irish Times

‘If you love Georgia read this.’ - Olia Hercules, author of Mamushka

‘It is a great read. If you love historical sagas and romances, this is the book for you.’ - ABC Radio National The Bookshelf

'The novel of the year.' - Der Spiegel

'Nino Haratischvili is one of the most important voices in contemporary German literature.' - Die Zeit

'Everybody requires a new, vigorous narrative of European ideals, of the European past ... Nino Haratischvili has created this narrative in her new novel.' - Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung

'Nino Haratischvili has written a great book: a book which ranges over a century and half of the globe; a book however, within which - as in the infant's experience - everything is only love and dread. It is a coup!' - Suddeutsche Zeitung

‘If you only read one book this year make sure it is The Eighth Life … Intricately crafted and addictive, The Eighth Life is an extraordinary, dramatic and compelling read ... The ambitious, vivid and unflinching translation from the original German by Ruth Martin and Charlotte Collins is in itself a work of art, and deserves to win every translation prize going.’ - BookBlast

‘Not only in its length does this novel resemble the work of Boris Pasternak. You will not want to put it down. The red century devours a family, and history comes with a pinch of chocolate — Like Water for Chocolate, even.’ - Brigitte

‘For those who enjoy a big story, that has great characters that will keep you engaged to the very end.’ FOUR STARS - Manly Daily

‘This is one for long-haul flights or the Christmas lock-in.’ - Bridget Hourican, Cara

‘The Eighth Life is the sort of book that sweeps you along, sustaining a tremendous feeling of urgency, as if the narrator ... is desperate to get it all out, get it all on paper, before the family curse catches up with her.’ - Andrew Fuhrmann, The Saturday Paper

‘The Eighth Life is a sprawling family saga, to be savoured for its grandeur, scope and scale ... Interwoven with love, loss, triumph and tragedy are the uncanny impacts of a family recipe for divine hot chocolate, which just might carry a curse ... [E]nthralling and satisfying.’ FIVE STARS - Maureen Eppen, Good Reading

‘The Eighth Life is a saga. An epic saga … Truly absorbing, it feels like a dozen little books contained in one.’ - Rebecca Varcoe, Frankie Magazine

‘If it’s a family saga you’re seeking, look no further than this grand tale, ably translated by Collins and Martin. The author gracefully interweaves the historical backdrop of her novel with the lives of her characters, thus adding depth to her story. Heartily recommended.’ STARRED REVIEW - Library Journal

‘[A]n exceptional, deeply evocative saga of an elite Georgian family as they endure the 20th century’s political upheavals, from before the Bolshevik Revolution through the post-Soviet era … In heartfelt prose, Haratischvili seamlessly weaves the political upheaval around the characters into the love and loss in their lives. Haratischvili’s epic portrait of a close-knit family doubles as a stunning tribute to the power of resilience.’ STARRED REVIEW - Publishers Weekly

‘This novel has generated substantial industry buzz and international critical praise. Both are justified … The Eighth Life — the story of a family, a country, a century — is an imaginative, expansive, and important read.’ STARRED REVIEW - Booklist

‘This multi-award winning novel is a riveting read … You too often want to pause and appreciate delightful twists, intriguing concepts, the catch-your-breath unexpected.’ - Judith Armstrong, The Australian

‘Spanning six generations of a family between 1900 and the 21st century, its characters travel to Tbilisi, Moscow, London and Berlin in an epic story of doomed romance that combines humour with magic realism.’ - Marta Bausells, The Guardian, ‘Ten of the best new books in translation’

‘The scope is Tolstoyan: the drama of War and Peace, the emotion of Anna Karenina … A sprinkling of Allendesque magic realism is added, along with a handful of spirits and a secret recipe for delicious and addictive hot chocolate that appears to curse those who drink it.’ - Lizzy Siddal, The Riveter

‘The Eighth Life is capacious, voluble, urgent, readable, translated heroically and sparklingly by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin.’ - Julian Evans

‘[T]his sprawling epic of love and loss … The Eighth Life is an expansive and hopeful tale centred on family touched by war and revolution.’ - Foreword Reviews

‘Sometimes I wonder how many people harbour a secret desire to write a book about their family’s entire history. I have certainly met enough women in my life who have expressed this explicitly, especially the stories shared by their mothers and grandmothers—the implication being that we don’t get enough of these stories in literature or biographies. It is perhaps for this reason that reading Nino Haratischwili’s The Eighth Life, translated by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin, feels so familiar, almost like a wish fulfilled ... The Eighth Life has deservedly been compared to Tolstoy’s War & Peace.’ - Barbara Halla, Asymoptote

‘The Eighth Life is the saga of a Georgian family – its intricate, interconnected lives, its losses, triumphs, sadnesses, and great loves, set against the sweep of Russian history across the twentieth century ... an unforgettable, rich and textured piece of literature.’ - Georgia Brough, Readings

‘Something rather extraordinary happened. The world fell away and I fell, wholly, happily, into the book ... My breath caught in my throat, tears nestled in my lashes ... devastatingly brilliant.’ - Wendell Steavenson, The New York Times Book Review

‘Georgia, a picturesque nation squeezed between the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea, was once considered a wine-soaked playground for the Soviet upper crust. This multigenerational epic, framed as a gift from the embittered narrator, Niza, to her wayward niece, provides a more nuanced view. It begins with Niza’s bourgeois great-grandmother, whose dream of becoming a ballerina is derailed by Lenin’s revolution. Her descendants are likewise transformed by upheavals of the twentieth century: Stalinist purges, the Second World War, the Prague Spring, Georgia’s independence, and the subsequent civil war. Through these events, the novel offers not only a critique of Soviet and Russian imperial ambitions but a necessary reappraisal of Georgian history.’ - The New Yorker

‘Once I finished this amazing family tale, the gold is worn off the cover in places, but the memories that made for a story told well will remain with me. I felt part of this family as I traveled with them through time and history; as they shared with me all the threads of their woven carpet, generations old ... I loved this amazing book.’ - Shannon Alden, Literati Bookstore

‘It’s definitely the best work of fiction I've read in the last year.’ - John Leake, Novel Bookstore

‘The Eighth Life provides readers a bird’s-eye view of conservative Georgian society … The characters who populate this novel courageously survive war and impossible courtships, induced miscarriages and despotic political regimes … gracefully riveting.’ - Apala Bhowmick, World Literature Today

‘The Eighth Life is a cup of hot chocolate: intoxicating, addictive, and highly pleasurable.’ - LA Review of Books

‘A comprehensive, vivid, and heartbreaking portrait of 19th- and 20th-century Georgia … Haratishvili’s gripping saga leaves the reader with an unmistakable sense of Georgia’s history, culture, and the wounds of its past.’ - Matt Janney, Calvert Journal

'It reminded me of Gone with the Wind crossed with 100 Years of Solitude.' - Eric Karl Anderson (LonesomeReader)

‘[T]his friendly monster of a novel is an immersive saga that embraces the reader in its sumptuous tapestry of woven tales. It also delivers a shrewd exploration of the ways that the steamroller of history — which, for Georgia, has included the worst of modern tyranny and terror — still leaves space for human (especially women’s) choice and agency … I recently co-judged Warwick University’s Women in Translation award — which The Eighth Life won — and have seldom felt so sure about a prize decision.’ - Boyd Tonkin, Words Without Borders

‘In The Eighth Life, Haratischvili investigates the relationship between personal trauma and the pains of a nation. While that might sound weighty, thus justifying the claims that the novel is the Georgian War and Peace, the narrative is easily digestible — like one of the Jashi family’s confections, The Eighth Life is a cup of hot chocolate: intoxicating, addictive, and highly pleasurable.’ - Los Angeles Review of Books

‘This is one for long-haul flights or the Christmas lock-in.’ - Aer Lingus

‘This huge, important novel is mesmerizing on audio, thanks to the range and judgment demonstrated in Tavia Gilbert’s remarkable performance ... Haratischvili’s ambition here is Tolstoyan, and her moving achievement will widen your world.’ - AudioFile

‘A gripping whopper of a read.’ - Susie Mesure, i newspaper

‘[The Eighth Life] is 913 pages filled with characters who you love, adore, absolutely despise and yet mourn when all is said and done. Historical fiction novel that spans over 100 years.’ - Shannen Findlay, Mamamia

‘A haunting tale of Georgia over the last century that’s both raw and heartbreaking, The Eighth Life is a brilliant act of storytelling and an insightful look into Georgian culture and history.’ - Forbes

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“From Russia with love”

Nino Haratischvili has written an engaging book. It will consume your thoughts ty members as the story progresses, travelling through the heart of Russia. It has the flavour of War and Peace, you can not help but make... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 76

“An epic family saga...”

“ The Eighth Life “ is a vast epic novel of a Georgian family with six generations and almost the entire twentieth century.

Nino Haratischvili creates a beautiful totally unputdownable picture mixing Georgian history... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 61

“The Eighth Life”

This is by far the longest book on the Booker International list, and for the most part I found it an enjoyable and absorbing read, though I can appreciate that it won't appeal to everyone.

It tells the story of... More

Paperback edition
Helpful? Upvote 14

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