The Pear Field
By Nana Ekvtimishvili, and and, Elizabeth Heighway
In post-soviet Georgia, on the outskirts of Tbilisi, on the corner of Kerch St., is an orphanage. Its teachers offer pupils lessons in violence, abuse and neglect. Lela is old enough to leave but has nowhere else to go. She stays and plans for the children’s escape, for the future she hopes to give to Irakli, a young boy in the home. When an American couple visits, offering the prospect of a new life, Lela decides she must do everything she can to give Irakli this chance.Tweet
There's so much to think about in this short, concisely written, seamlessly translated novel that it's left me feeling a bit stunned. It's set in a children's home cum residential school in Georgia where the most horrific and harrowing things happen to the children who have nevertheless managed to retain their humanity and treat one another with warmth and tenderness. Sometimes. They can also be violent and abusive, the way they've been treated themselves. It's written from the point of view of an 18 year old girl who grew up there and still lives there for lack of alternatives. It is told in a matter of fact way that almost seems to normalise the violence yet there is humour and a certain kind of defensive caring in there too. A brilliant book, highly recommended.