Avelum was the fifth novel by Otar Chiladze, who died in 2009. It was first published in Georgian in 1995, and now appears in an English translation by Donald Rayfield, a connoisseur of Russian and Georgian literature. Set in the period between two anti-Soviet demonstrations in Tbilisi – the first in March 1956 and the second in April 1989 – it tells the story of Avelum, a Georgian writer living in the USSR. His name, Chiladze explains, means ‘free citizen with full civic rights’. It is a bitter work, full of frustration, sadness and scepticism.
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