“Hiding Away” is a book that nurtures its reader like a mother’s milk does a child, with each episode more nourishing than the last. It’s been several years ago now since I happened upon a fantastic short story in a Georgian literary magazine, the title of which surprised me by its length: “Answers to a Small-Circulation Magazine”. This is how I discovered Aleko Shughladze – a writer that was previously unknown to me, and one I still think is quite underrated.

Since then, I’ve never stopped mentioning both that short story and its author in interviews and private conversations. I’m almost constantly recommending Shughladze’s “Answers” to everybody – a book which I believe to be a real masterpiece. Sadly, apart from a few voracious consumers of literature, very few follow my advice. Aleko himself also vanished from the literary scene for quite some time after “Answers” was published.

In today’s post-modernist context, higher literary values have collapsed and everything is relative. Today, no one would find it odd to reference both The Knight in the Panther’s Skin and Gldani’s famed shaurma in a single brea, and yet, “Hiding Away” is at once far-removed from both of these concepts. It is like a palm tree growing in a vineyard: a piece of Georgian literature that is alien to any Georgian literary tradition.

I had been expecting something special from Aleko for some time, and my expectations have been fulfilled. “Hiding Away” is an absolutely wonderful book. In fact, it’s so brilliant, it doesn’t even feel like a Georgian book!

Such a compact form of book is rare – it’s exactly the length it should be, with nothing excessive and nothing lacking. After reading the book, one is left with the impression of having intimately encountered everything at the same time – the past, the future, the external.

The text is excellently crafted, with moments of anticipation, a flexible plot, sparse prose and a totally unexpected plot twist. However for me, the book’s real strength and merit is in its atmospheric character.

As in “Answers”, so also in “Hiding Away”, Aleko Shughladze is a master of creating original atmosphere. For this reason, his writing reminds me of Sergei Shikera’s “Egyptian Metro” and the dreamscape atmosphere of Robert Irwin’s “Arabian Nightmare”. Even if you read it when the sun is shining outside, “Hiding Away” can make you feel like you’re inside a dark room, and the only source of light is the flickering window of an apartment block across the street. Shughladze envelops the scene in a thick cover, giving each episode a distinct color. It seems as if the author has drawn some magical circle around the characters in his book, in which they thrash around like headless chickens, unable to escape, until the author sees fit to pick them up and move them around. [. In the end he replaces one discipline with another on a grand scale thoroughly and without compromise – just like Philip Dick used to dismantle reality.]

The city of Tbilisi figures as a dark tunnel in this book – only after escaping the city can one see daylight.

“Hiding Away” is a black-and-white book with a colored ending – a rainbow shining over a muddy puddle.

Take, for example, the story of the diaper-wearing mother abducted from a khrushchovka – apartment block in Saburtalo and taken to India, where parrots perch on her shoulders. This is the woman who was writhing in pain on her own bed just a few days ago, with only morphine to sedate her and provide temporary relief. Now she spends her time feeding bananas to monkeys and getting angry at Aleko. This final showdown with Aleko has its own motives – the mother can see a magic mountain which is invisible to Aleko – a reference to the tradition by which mothers can always see something that imperceptible to others.

And yet, this is another India – not punctuated by Bollywood songs and dances, but populated by singing dogs and false fakirs. It is a place where through searching, humility and compassion, one can find authenticity and magic.

“Hiding Away” is a masterful magic trick, a beautiful gamble. It is a communion with something great, unreachable and unseen. It’s impossible to guess the outcome of the story before reaching the end and before the author reveals what he intends to do with the character of the abducted mother.

There are plenty of unforgettable scenes in the book, for example, a bookish investigator, who isn’t quite sure what he’s investigating, who visits a girl he’s known for a while and attacks her stupid boyfriend with a vacuum cleaner. Then there’s Ketusha wailing in the bathroom doorway, a singing dog who sometimes writes using paper and pen. There are many other brilliant episodes that are tinged with both sadness and humour, imperceptibly enveloping the reader, who is unaware that the culmination of events is just around the corner.

Those of us who have read widely are often wary of giving our trust to the author right away. In order to understand the rules at play in this or that text, we are often required to carry out of a lot of mechanical mental labour, which many of us find exhausting. For this reason, far too often we finish books without ever having been able to enjoy them thoroughly. However Shughladze’s voice never fails to mesmerize and ensnare readers with its melancholic mirth and almost thunderous reverberations.

“Hiding Away” is a feast for readers. It’s a kind text – one that affirms the message that it’s possible to reach the rainbow, even if you’re in the mud – one simply needs to reach out for it. A single reading of this book will stay with you for the rest of your life, unlike so many other pieces of literature that fray with time and are scattered on the winds of forgetfulness. “Hiding Away” is one text that certainly cannot be hidden away in the mind of its reader.

Zaza Burchuladze

Zaza: Rustaveli describes his poem The Knight in Panther’s Skin in the following terms: “I have found this Persian tale, and have set it in Georgian verse”. What would you say about “Hiding Away”? Where is this tale  from and what language is it translated from?

Aleko: I don’t know, it’s hard for me to answer that right away. Let me think about it and I’ll answer this question later.

Zaza: Ok. For me personally, the mostattractive aspect of “Hiding Away” is that it doesn’t comefrom the Georgian prose tradition. It’s written in the Georgian language, it’s published in Georgia, but it’s pleasantly foreign to the rules and traditions of Georgian literature. Who are your authors? What is your work based on as a writer, do you think?

Aleko: Actually, school made me hate Georgian literature. I hadn’t read anything and it’s the first time I’m saying this. I didn’t like Chavchavadze before and I don’t like him now. But look at the way he writes, right? He doesn’t seem to make mistakes, but I still don’t like him. I don’t like Tsereteli’s work. Vazha-Pshavela was the only one I liked. I couldn’t read Robakidze at all. I read some of the works of Inanishvili, but when they mention OtarChiladze I remain silent. I don’t know his works at all.

So if I’m not anchored in Georgian literary traditions, maybe that’s for the best. Maybe I was saved from something…

Zaza: If anything, you were saved from pollution, but let’s go back to “Hiding Away”. If there ever appears a rebel in contemporary Georgian prose, it is always a theatrical doll-like rebel. But in “Hiding Away” I was surprised that the main character, Aleko not only opposed the system (whether that be family, neighbors or friends), but he actually defeated it.

Aleko: Aleko did win over the system in “Hiding Away”, but “Hiding Away” is part of a future trilogy and in fact, a much more serious battle is taking place. It’s so serious that you don’t even understand who’s winning it. One person told me that after reading my novel he got the impression that he had conquered death and that he’d become immortal. I understood then that there’s an oriental influence there, a victory. When a person dies in the East, they don’t hold a six day memorial service, they don’t create an illusion of somebody actually dying, they don’t cry over the dead person. They bury that person the same day or the next day or cremate his or her body. Why they do that? Because they believe in eternity. Here, this religion, this world, this strange faith called Christianity (which I think is not what Christianity is supposed to be) has created an impression that everything ends with death. I don’t believe this anymore. When somebody dies, I’m sad, I feel bad that I won’t be able to see that person anymore, but I know that he or she must continue living somewhere else. The principle of reincarnation and the migration of souls is so deeply engraved in me that my sadness lasts only for a short period of time. When you’re eternal, when you don’t take death very close to heart, then you can fight against system. There’s humor in it, an oriental trick, a gamble, a combination of everything.

Zaza: “Hiding Away” reminded me of Philip Dick for some reason. I can’t remember any other instance of a dismantlement of reality in Georgian literature that is anything like the one we see in your novel. It’s a tricky book, a little bit mischievous. I also thought it was a Georgian version of The Matrix. In Aleko we see a Georgian version of Neo, who fights against the agents and the system, and we see a battle in which Neo is victorious. I can’t remember anything remotely resembling the final collapse of this reality (which is so colorful and beautiful) in Georgian literature. Was this your idea all along?Did you know you would replace one reality with another?That you would abduct the mother and take her from one reality to another?

Aleko: You know what? India is really another universe, something different is happening there. I think the place where I am now is more like the Matrix. I don’t know how well I managed to convey the scene about my mother’s arrival in India – the country isa shock for people who are unprepared. Maybe I should havedescribed it in even in more detail, but that would have taken the narration too far. I may do that in the third part of the trilogy. There will be shocks, strange turs of events, both in a material, everyday sense and in a spiritual sense. If anything can save a person it is the shock of strange and unknown things. India likes to play tricks and test you. It’s sometimes stubborn, and it doesn’t accept everyone - it’s like one of the zones in “Stalker”. In short, the place is a shock. That shock and unexpectedness have saved the character of the mother, at least for the time being.

Zaza: I remember a mystical fight between film directors in one of your old stories, where Bunuel defeated Bergman. What would you say now, who would win the fight - Bunuel or Bergman?

Aleko: Once upon a time Bunuel was stronger. He was to me anyway. But now Bergman is on top, Bergman is victorious. Currently the Swede has the Spaniard on his back, like in Judo, when there are only 30 seconds of the round remaining … when there’s still a chance to be saved.

Zaza: As far as I can see, a strange thing is happening in your life;  in some sense, psychoanalysis has defeated the psychedelic. Are you more like Hamlet or Don Quixote yourself?

Aleko: Hamlet, I’m definitely Hamlet!

Zaza: Based on that, I can understand Bergman’s victory better, even if there are only 30 seconds left, Hamlet has defeated Don Quixote in you. Self-reflection has come to the fore. What would you say about impressions? Who has had an impact on you? 

Aleko: The first big impression was made on me by Camus’ The Stranger. I was astonished by the revelation that it is possible to write so simply, using such short sentences, but with such deep, very deep sense. “Yesterday my mother died. Maybe today”… or however he starts his book. Of course, I found I agreed with the contents of the book and the author’s outlook. That had a strong impact on me and I followed Camus’ path for quite some time. But then I got scared. I had suicidal thoughts and Camus couldn’t help me there. After that, enter Dostoyevsky, then Bulgakov, who was unlike anyone else I’d read before. Bulgakov introduced me to an unreal universe and it was fantastic, awesome. Then came the esoteric universe, Bhagavad Gita, Vedic literature, the Orient. God entered into me in such a strange manner… and finally, India.

I was finished when India came along. I no longer had the wish to write. I realized then that this was normal, because a time had come to perceive and absorb something. I understood that I didn’t want to be superficial. That’s when I wrote Samsara, which some people said was my weakest work. I don’t agree, but that’s how it was. So I stopped writing. Fifteen years passed just like that. Now I’m back. I started to write when my mother was ill.

I had nothing on my mind at that moment; I just started writing “Hiding Away” in parallel with what was happening around me. I looked after my mother and I wrote. That saved me. Something was happening externally and I was writing. In other words, I was neutralizing the reality around me, and at the same time, magnifying it, in order to prevent it from overpowering me.

I transferred it to paper and it helped me a lot. Writing has never helped me so much – it always felt like a chore before.

Going back to the influences, I don’t remember when the beatniks started to exert an influence on me. I didn’t really understand Americans before that - either their poetry or their prose. Bukowski was the first one I accepted. Pulp Fiction had a big impact on me. So these were the people who has the biggest influence on me. And cinema too: Tarkovsky, Bergman, Antonioni, Godard, Bunuel… I was watching Bergman’s films while writing “Hiding Away” and they really charged me– after watching them I would get up and start writing.

Zaza: I’ve witnessed the deaths of many people… some of them died in my arms, some were shot, some died as a result of a drug overdose… but these are all quick deaths. The first slow death I witnessed was my grandfather dying of a stroke. Then my father’s death from cancer… I remember well how it became increasingly less possible to communicate with them day by day. I not only saw all of this again while reading “Hiding Away”, I also realized that communication is possible, even when a person’s life is ebbing away and death is taking hold. It turns out that it’s possible to communicate with a dying person. It’s possible to make them feel happy, even just for awhile. Your mother sitting in a wheelchair, surrounded by monkeys and parrots, is an astonishingly attractive scene. A person abducted from a Soviet-era khrushchovka building, who finds a final home under the magic mountain, who finds shock and the unexpected in this place, it’s almost as if her motherly instincts come back to her…

Aleko: The thing is, when you’re struck down by pain, you can’t even go to the store next door, let alone travel long distances. You can’t move actually. And you’re dazed by morphine. How does morphine alleviate pain? You’re still aching. Then you find yourself in the airport, some other place and all of a sudden your inner world is completely gone, such is the effect of the external world, of India… And when your inner world disappears, your pain is gone too. If the body realizes that it has an owner, then illnesses are cured. But this isn’t how it happened in my mother’s case.

My mother loved Jesus, she loved the phenomenon of Christ. But at the end, when she realized that her situation was hopeless, she started asking me to ask my God for help. She took my rosary, repeated my mantras. I saw great desperation in that act. That’s why the final episode is the way it is. She loved parrots very much, so these parrots are flying around her at the end of the book. That’s how it had to be.

Zaza: However, in the novel, Aleko can’t see the mountain, but his mother can…

Aleko: You have to go to the mountain in a humble, calm and trustful state - that’s the precondition. In my mother’s case the external world was like a kind of grace, while I was still locked up in my shell. I lost the mountain many times because of that. Sometimes people who go to sacred sites are more focused on exchanging money than they are on the mountain itself. This is a nightmare, it’s a terrible test. You have to be open in order to see the mountain. Even an ignorant, uneducated and evil person can see the mountain, but a philosopher may fail to see it altogether.

Zaza: What role does Ketusha play in all of this? She’s a very lovable character, with all her helplessness: Is she a sort of anchor for both Aleko and Lena, a sort of chain, holding them together? Movie quotes that Ketusha likes from the country that does not exist any more, the way she gets stuck in the bathroom doorway – the way she is often turned into statics… all of these are important symbols in and of themselves.

Aleko: There are two points there. First of all, Ketusha is a really pitiful person, very pitiable. People never talk about the Ketushas of the world, so it’s very good that she’s in the novel. The second point is that I wanted Ketusha to be an object of observation for the reader, as well as for me. She made me start to think why she resembled a form of plant life more than a person. How did she end up like this? I wanted readers to start thinking about why people are placed in uneven conditions from birth. Let’s take Mozart and then Ketusha. Mozart and Ketusha. Where do they come from? I wanted to say that Ketino was doomed in life due to some crime perpetrated in her previous life. She was condemned for something that she did wrong, conventionally wrong. For example, a Nazi who tortured some people could be born as a Ketusha in the next life. On the other hand, no one is simply doomed from birth - they become Ketushas later in life. I don’t know whether Ketusha was an anchor in my life, or even in my mother’s life. Ketusha was more of a burden, but it’s worth asking why we are given that burden. Why do we have to carry it? Since my mother carried that burden, she received a lot of points from above, from someone. She set her life aside and dedicated it to that person. This is sacrifice. In my case, she made me start thinking about all of this.

Also, I was in the process of writing when I really abducted Ketusha and hid her away. I have a character in another novel – a prototype of a real person - who I called Ilo Beburishvili. Nobody knew about him back then. Nobody at all. In short, I went to see Ketusha one day. Towards the end she had to lie down all the time and she couldn’t walk anymore. She couldn’t see, she only recognized me from my voice. “Aleko is that you?” – she asked me. “How are you?” – I asked. “He was here” - she said. “Who?” – I asked. “Beburishvili was here” – she answered. “Which Beburishvili” – I asked. “The Beburishvili. As if you don’t know him” – she said.

Such things are not supposed to happen, but I’m glad that they do. I’m very glad because these things are much better than ordinary, real life.

Zaza: There’s a really funny scene in “Hiding Away” where Aleko goes to see his girlfriend and finds Lika with her boyfriend. I started to laugh out loud when Aleko picked up the vacuum cleaner. All of a sudden, I feared and expected that through some magic, Aleko would suck really up into that vacuum cleaner. However, thankfully it didn’t happen. I’d like you to talk a bit about Lika too.

Aleko: I like that idea of sucking up reality with the vacuum cleaner. It fits more into another novel, but it’s still very good.

Lika is a real-life character. Lika belongs to the category of people who see a writer in me. They like the writer, but they are not attracted to the man that the writer is. She’s really very young and I have severed all connections with her. I feel like I had become a replacement for her father. Her real dad was a horrible man who terrorized his family. Lika belongs to that group of people who received everything from me without giving anything in return. She’s a very tragic person, I’m sorry that I can’t help her anymore. It was selfish of me, but what can I do?

Zaza: Are you yourself a producer or a consumer?

Aleko: I’m more of a consumer. Once I thought about becoming like Mother Theresa and only helping others, but then I realized that I wouldn’t be physically able to do it. Giving more than you receive requires an inhuman, unnatural strength. It’s a very difficult life - there’s nothing left of you as a result. Sometimes you give more than you take, but according to my general estimates, I’m more of an exploiterthan a giver. I haven’t really calculated it properly, but I think that’s how it would work out.

Zaza: Don’t you miss India? Your teacher?

Aleko: After my teacher left (he died in 2010), it seemed like I had lost everything. It was like a power outage, when the whole city is plunged into darkness. Our strength, my own strength was halved; while the teacher was alive everything seemed to happen by itself. The last time I went to India I couldn’t stay there for more than two weeks, I just got up and left. As soon as I got back to Tbilisi, I started to miss India immensely and I have to start preparing for my next trip there. I will take my child there too, and if my wife also comes, the trip will have a very family feel. This will make my stay there easier, I think.

Zaza: Does that mean you’re trying to create a more comfortable environment there?

Aleko: Yes. I used to be able to live without comfort there. I would leave everything here and sleep on a floor there. I can’t do that anymore, and this is a drawback. It’s as if the strength which I used to go there for is not there anymore. The stories that our teacher told us were some of the most amazing things I ever heard. I realized there what it means to feel a force attached to a story told by someone else. In the end, my teacher was unable to speak for long periods of time (for more than 15 minutes or so). What story can a man tell in just 15 minutes, right? But I knew much more after his stories than I did before and I would be filled with strength. That man is no more. Others’ stories don’t have the same effect. I’m just not interested in it anymore. They tell me ordinary stories, but with great artistry. I don’t want Guram Sagharadze’s rendition of Galaktioni - I’m not interested in it. My teacher was real, but this is falsehood … fakery.

Zaza: Are you a happy or unhappy person?

Aleko: Of course I’m happy! I’m definitely a happy person. If I sometimes think I’m unhappy, it’s a lie. I’m a very happy person. I have seen so many things, felt so many things… Despite the fact that I’m now a very lost person, I still know that I’m happy. This may sound strange, but it’s true.

Zaza: Are you a coward or a brave person?

Aleko: I used to be more cowardly in my youth, but since then I have gradually learnt how to overcome this cowardice. My life lost its value – or, to put it more correctly, - it didn’t turn out to be as important as I thought it was. When I realized that I wasn’t eternal the fear vanished. Now I know that when I die, I will be reborn anyway, and when I die the next time, I will be reborn again.

Zaza: Have you ever carried a knife in your pocket?

Aleko: Yes, when I studied at the Technical University. I was very lonely and didn’t have many friends. The guys at the reserve officer training department tried to bully me. I used to carry a knife and a screwdriver together. First I only carried a knife in my pocket, but then I realized that if something happened I wouldn’t be able to open it up fast enough, so I also started putting a screwdriver in my pocket too. It would have been very easy to take out the screwdriver, but I never had the need to use either of those items. Still, they gave me more courage - especially the screwdriver. It was a really good screwdriver; I sharpened the tip really well.

Zaza:  So you felt more protected?

Aleko: Yes, back then, yes. Then everything changed. After India I started to use other things for self-protection. I learnt short mantras, which I could say quickly before a fight.

Zaza: You remember there used to be knives with release buttons. Did you learn any mantras with “release buttons”?

Aleko: Yes, “a quick-release mantra”! Yes, yes, I have a few mantras like that, I swear to God! I really have them! But they’re not opened from the side, they’re more like the knives that have blades that spring out from the front.

Zaza: When was the last time you had a fight?

Aleko: Just recently, at a bus station. I was going to take a mini-bus, and some woman started to pester me, saying she wouldn’t give me a normal ticket. I told her I didn’t want her ticket at all, and people started to come to her defense – really they were just itching for a fight. Then I noticed that one of them had a knife and he was going to use it on me. You’ll be surprised, but I managed to kick him in the gut quite hard – so hard that he fell back quite forcefully. I later regretted this, and the fact that I didn’t manage to use my “quick release” mantra. I took the mini-bus anyway and they didn’t even take my money. It was a really strange story, and I’m quite ashamed of it. But I’ll never surrender, because I have done so several times in my life and I’m still ashamed of having done so. I always try to resolve conflicts peacefully, but if I see that a fight is necessary, I will fight. I don’t know whether I’ll be able to kill someone, but I will at least use my legs wherever a “quick release” mantra can’t help.

Zaza: Do you believe in God?

Aleko: Yes. Otherwise everything becomes meaningless.

Zaza: What will you tell God when you appear before him?

Aleko: Finally I’m here, finally I’m back…

Zaza: What do you mean by “I’m back”?

Aleko: You’re right, it’s not really going back. Let’s just say: “Finally it all turned out to be true and I have finally reached you.”

Zaza: Would you say something like: “here I am!”

Aleko: Yes! That’s brilliant, very good: “here I am!” Wonderful! “Here I am!” It’s really good, I like it very much! It’s fantastic, there’s humor and everything… “Here I am!” Very good indeed!

Zaza: What would you trade your freedom for?

Aleko: I don’t have freedom, Zaza. I don’t have any freedom. What freedom are we talking about? When it’s hot, I have to take off my clothes. When I’m cold, I have to put clothes on. There is no such thing as freedom. Generally speaking, a person can’t be free.

Zaza: How would you interpret: “I am part of that power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good…”?

Aleko: I’m currently trying to work this out. This kind of duality is the worst thing, something that kills a man - the fight between good and evil, when you don’t know what’s good and what’s bad. It seems we all know about good and bad, it seems to be universally accepted, but it’s not really so. I don’t know, it’s a hard question, I don’t want to be overpowered by either good or bad, I don’t want them to create fear in me.

Zaza: If we assume that we can stand above good and bad, then it’s clear – when the sun gives equal light to the killer and to the victim…

Aleko: I wanted to say the same thing. We have to stand above the duality of morals, then you can kill people, destroy them, without being destroyed yourself, neither you nor the others.

Zaza: Is it possible to repent all of this?

Aleko: Of course, if it comes to repentance, you just need a second for that, a mere second. When you turn off a propeller, it can still go on rotating by inertia. But the act of turning it off itself needs only a second. It’s called the Samsara propeller – the propeller of Life and Death. A person may be forgiven everything if he repents. Even Hitler will be forgiven everything as soon as he repents. There are no hopeless situations.

Zaza: You may kill millions of people, or you may order the deaths of millions of people and you can just repent of it all in a second and be forgiven?

Aleko: Yes, if you don’t touch the divine then you’re Hitler, but if you do touch the divine, the light comes down instantly, everything changes right away. He can’t remain Hitler forever.

Zaza: What are you afraid most of all?

Aleko:

I’m afraid of losing all of this experience (including transcendental experiences) that I accrued during the last 15 or 17 years. I’m scared of just breaking it all to pieces by mistake. I’m scared of it vanishing one day. That’s what I’m most afraid of.

Zaza: Do you think your connection with India has perfected you, made you nobler or more beautiful? Or not?

Aleko: There’s a word in Sanskrit – Dharma. It means all of those things. This is obligation, order, everything that is associated with a person. I was granted the understanding of Dharma.

Zaza: So you’re Dharma bum?

Aleko: Yes, I’m Dharma bum. It’s called Sanatana Dharma – an eternal Dharma. It means the sum total of certain obligations for preserving cosmic order.

Zaza: At the end of our interview we go back to beatniks once more, in this case I mean Kerouac (The Dharma Bums is a novel by Jack Kerouac – Z.B.)

Aleko: By the way, I now remember your first question: “I have found this Persian tale, and have set it in Georgian verse”. Here we can use the beatniks. I think “Hiding Away” is a Georgian story translated into beatnik.

Zaza: Which books do you wish you had written?

Aleko: The Master and Margarita and the Brothers Karamazov… I really love Bulgakov’s final scene, it’s very real. Very rarely have I enjoyed the end of a novel as much as I did in The Master and Margarita, when they finally fly away and find peace. Even Pilate can’t be forgiven everything…

Zaza: Maybe he wasn’t pardoned because Bulgakov made him out to be a cowardly person?

Aleko: Yes, it’s a really nice feature. Of course, since he was cowardly we understand that he was forgiven. A novel like that should be written about someone who’s really evil, but in the end you still forgive them. I’m trying to do something similar in my new novel – I want to make the readers love evil people and make them want to forgive them too.

Zaza:  Would you like to add something at the end of our dialogue?

Aleko: I read a letter written by a Bengali woman, who witnessed the entrance of Krishna Chaitanya in her village in the middle ages. The woman tells such an amazing story: “I saw how that man entered and how he was followed by millions of people. They moved through villages, damaging the villages while dancing and singing. However, this did not make us  angry. We were glad that those people came - they were singing and dancing and destroying everything at the same time.” I want something similar to happen in Georgia. I want to witness that here.

Zaza: In other words you want to see the world destroyed by song and dance?

Aleko: Yes, yes, everything must be destroyed with spiritual song and dance. That’s what I want!

“Hiding Away” will be published in Britain in Setember 2018. The book will feature the Georgian National Stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October when Georgia is a Guest of Honor.