Hard by a Great Forest

21,000+ Reviews
Bookshop.org has the highest-rated customer service of any bookstore in the world
Product Details
$29.00  $26.97
Riverhead Books
Publish Date
6.36 X 9.28 X 1.05 inches | 1.18 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate
About the Author
Leo Vardiashvili was born and raised in Tbilisi, Georgia. When he was twelve, he and his family fled Georgia's post-Soviet regime for asylum in England. He studied English literature at Queen Mary University of London.
Praise for Hard By a Great Forest:

"Vardiashvili's heartbreaking debut novel lays bare the effects that displacement can have over generations and illuminates the resilience of those who have suffered and still found their way to happiness."--The Washington Post

"Cunning and unstinting, humanist and self-aware...Evoke[s] a thorough understanding of war, escape and violence... reflecting the cyclical nature of familial death and individual reconstitution. The unstable way we return home." --The New York Times

"Has a commercial-fiction spring in its step.... Vardiashvili also has captured the winking, world-weary humor and magic-realist touches that mark a lot of literature from Europe's war-torn corners." --The Los Angeles Times

"The stakes could barely be higher in Leo Vardiashvili's propulsive page-turner... [Vardiashvili's] sprawling narrative, part comic, part tragic, abounds in mysteries, monsters, magic and terrors. It's a spellbinding achievement."--The Financial Times

"Smart and gamesome." --Wall Street Journal

"This debut novel captures both the long scars of collective trauma and the indomitable spirit of those determined to remember and survive."--Oprah Daily

"When we land in Tbilisi with Saba we are in a fairy tale world, though one redrawn by Kafka. . . And what a tale it is. . .what makes this story so spellbinding, is what happens along the way."--Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"Grippingl . . .Hard by a Great Forest is thrilling and blackly humorous, but it is also a poignant book, one that has considerable resonance today. . . powerful."--The Economist

"Beguiling... Vivid, nostalgia-tinged images are littered throughout Leo Vardiashvili's moving debut... Vardiashvili mixes a breezy tone with glinting lyricism."--The Sunday Times

"A playful and sinister narrative about two siblings sent to the woods by their father... a treasure hunt through Georgian culture."--Times Literary Supplement

"A compelling novel about war, family separation and ambivalent homecoming, its tale of sacrifice, guilt and betrayal is propelled by dark mysteries and offset by glorious shafts of humour... heart-wrenching and comic... Novels such as this might help light the way."--The Guardian

"Both a thrilling mystery-adventure hybrid and the sort of war-devastated drama that leaves your chest heaving, all folded into one precious debut."--Elle

"Vardiashvili keeps readers invested with the grit and generous spirit of his characters....a great read, full of history, mystery and chance reunions that asks the reader to examine how we can move forward when we're followed by the ghosts of the past."--BookPage

"Vardiashvili's amazing and poignant tale of loss and resilience draws readers in with compelling descriptions of land and place. Saba encounters horrid acts of violence or their aftermath, but he also finds beauty, even magic and mystery. A remarkable debut."--Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

"Heartrending, beautifully crafted. . .Laced with humor and insights similar to those of Gary Shteyngart and Jonathan Safran Foer, this is a sweeping, ambitious, and almost unbelievably assured debut. Exploring the long shadow of trauma cast by any war, Vardiashvili's novel pummels the reader with an emotional force that few can match." --Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

"[A] spectacular debut. . .The tense plot ups the ante from one narrow escape to the next, and Vardiashvili layers his seamless blend of genres (police thriller, fairy tale quest, coming-of-age story) with lush depictions of Georgia's landscape, culture, and resilient people. This will leave readers breathless."--Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

"An unforgettable aria to a lost homeland, full of anger, sorrow, and longing."--Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW

"Lushly haunted debut...Fans of Téa Obreht's The Tiger's Wife will feel right at home."--Shelf Awareness

"Movingly evokes the complicated feelings of trying to recapture and redefine what home looks and feels like. Vardiashvili doesn't shy away from depicting the violence and trauma that still roil under the surface of Tbilisi's shiny new cityscape -- or that boil over in the disputed territory of Ossetia. But he also describes the unfailing generosity and hospitality of its people."--Bookreporter

"This novel annihilated me. I gasped, laughed, and wept my way through it. Rich with irony and animated with astonishing humanity, this tale of a young Georgian refugee's odyssey into his birthplace to rescue family left my heart bruised and battered and aching for more." --Khaled Hosseini, author of #1 New York Times bestseller The Kite Runner

"This novel blows open the heart of the past. It's a mystery, it's a picaresque, it's a comedy, and it's an authentic song of belonging and unbelonging. Tender and raw and funny, it's a rattling good read about the loss of home and the primacy of story-telling. By turns political and philosophical, it introduces a fine new voice in contemporary fiction."--Colum McCann, National Book Award winning author of Let the Great World Spin

"A wildly charming debut--propulsive, funny, and profound."--Elif Batuman, Pulitzer Prize finalist and bestselling author of The Idiot

"Astonishingly crafted with history, candor, beauty, grief and just a little magic. A book like no other, from an imagination like no other. Vardiashvili has written a triumph." --Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Less Is Lost

"Profoundly moving and rich with humor and heartbreak, Hard by a Great Forest mesmerized me from the very first page. It will capture your heart." --Jean Kwok, New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Translation