The Eighth Life (For Brilka) by Nino Haratischvili
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. This is the deft detailing of a part of European history lost to most of us, where readers will relish in the rich characterisation of the cold, pinched and hungry faces of those securely under the thumb of communist rule.
If you like lots of characters and get excited by a list of names and family trees, then The Eighth Life is for you. This book is for those readers who want to entirely give over their time and their attention – it’s for those of us sick of our routinely dip-in, dip-out quick consumption and the short, wandering attention spans afforded to us by so much of current mainstream media. If you have the time and inclination to really absorb yourself with great contentment in a dramatic, all-encompassing novel, then this is for you.
It’s far from a quick read – but if you lean in, give yourself over to this family’s story, then you will be rewarded with a rich world, a cast of characters heartbreaking and captivating, and reminiscent of those living in the pages of a Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy novel. It’s a true wonder – while you may find yourself wondering the point of hearing the birth story of a minor secondary character’s mother – you will also revel in this level of immersion, one which makes this an unforgettable, rich and textured piece of literature.