Hard by a Great Forest

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Hard by a Great Forest book cover

by Leo Vardiashvili

Publication date: January 30, 2024
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Paperback: 352 Pages

Publisher Description


Amid rubble and rebuilding in a former Soviet land, one family must rescue one another and put the past to rest: a stirring novel about what happens after the fighting is over.

Saba is just a child when he flees the fighting in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia with his older brother, Sandro, and father, Irakli, for asylum in England. Two decades later, all three men are struggling to make peace with the past, haunted by the places and people they left behind.

When Irakli decides to return to Georgia, pulled back by memories of a lost wife and a decaying but still beautiful homeland, Saba and Sandro wait eagerly for news. But within weeks of his arrival, Irakli disappears, and the final message they receive from him causes a mystery to unfold before them: “I left a trail I can’t erase. Do not follow it.”

In a journey that will lead him to the very heart of a conflict that has marred generations and fractured his own family, Saba must retrace his father’s footsteps to discover what remains of their homeland and its people. By turns savage and tender, compassionate and harrowing, Hard by a Great Forest is a powerful and ultimately hopeful novel about the individual and collective trauma of war, and the indomitable spirit of a people determined not only to survive, but to remember those who did not.

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About the author

Leo Vardiashvili was born and raised in Tbilisi, Georgia. When he was thirteen years old, he and his family fled Georgia’s post-Soviet regime for asylum in England. Hard by a Great Forest is his first novel.


This novel annihilated me…. Left my heart bruised and battered and aching for more.”—Khaled Hosseini, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Kite Runner

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“A book like no other, from an imagination like no other.” —Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Less

“Tender and raw and funny.” —Colum McCann, National Book Award winning author of 
Let the Great World Spin

“Propulsive, funny, and profound.”—Elif Batuman, Pulitzer Prize finalist and bestselling author of 
The Idiot




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