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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction



Tamta Melaschwili

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Title: გათვლა
Author: Tamta Melaschwili
Genre: Novel
Written: 2010
Length: 70 pages
Original in: Georgian
Availability: Abzählen - Deutschland

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Our Assessment:

B : solid novella of war-torn times and place

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
taz . 15/3/2012 Barbara Oertel

  From the Reviews:
  • "Wer über die großen und kleinen Tragödien des menschlichen Daseins berichtet, verfällt leicht in Schwülstigkeit und Pathos. Dieser Falle entgeht Melaschwili durch einen besonderen, staccatoartigen Sprachstil. Er schafft Distanz, verleiht dem Text Tempo und dem Erzählten Allgemeingültigkeit." - Barbara Oertel, taz

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

[Note: This review is based on Natia Mikeladse-Bachsoliani's 2012 German translation of გათვლა, Abzählen.]

       გათვლა ('Counting') is set in a Caucasian warzone, in a desolate town that most have abandoned. Most of the novella is narrated by Ketewan Gardawadse, a thirteen year-old girl who is generally called Zknapi (apparently a pet name often used for diminutive girls, like 'mouse' or 'little un'). Zknapi is still very much a child, but she spends much of her time with Ninzo Rogawa, a friend who is the same age but looks much more mature and could pass for eighteen.
       There's little stability here of any kind, beginning with families, with fathers absent and those left behind in rather desperate straits. Zknapi's mother can't breastfeed her infant son any longer, and there's hardly any substitute to be found; Ninzo's grandmother is on her deathbed. The girls still have a childish way around them, Ninzo leading the way in their adventures (including breaking into abandoned homes and stores), Zknapi much more reluctant. There's still an element of playfulness to all the seriousness, but reality, and especially death, is hard to keep at bay
       Living near the border, they are also drawn into a smuggling plan, and their youth serves them in initially avoiding any serious harm coming to them when they are caught. Tragedy, however, inevitably overtakes them.
       გათვლა is presented in a series of episodes that rotate through three days of the week -- the fateful days of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday in this particular week, a repeated cycle of day-to-day life, the story returning again and again to its beginning -- but with fate, of course, waiting inescapably at its end. Only in its conclusion is the cycle broken, the story moving on to Saturday.
       The near-stream-of-thought narration reinforces a sense of relentless flow, with dialogue presented without paragraph- or other breaks and the girl's thoughts often mixing indistinguishably with what she says and hears -- an effective presentation of her reality.
       გათვლა is typical for this over-worn genre in its description of war-torn suffering and horror, with the young narrator's perspective moderating some of the horror. Only occasionally too heavy-handed -- Zknapi gets her first period right in this period ? allowing both for more blood to flow and for her to be seen as making the transition to adulthood ? -- Melaschwili does have good control over her material, and presents all this ugliness and human suffering quite well. But it remains a bleak story, and there isn't that much that is new about it, in either the telling or the content.
       Certainly of some interest, and Melaschwili may well be a voice to watch -- the fundamentals here are certainly solid --, but it can't quite separate itself sufficiently from all the other wartime stories out there.

- M.A.Orthofer, 29 March 2012

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გათვლა: Reviews: Tamta Melaschwili: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Georgian author Tamta Melaschwili (თამთა მელაშვილი) was born in 1979.

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