Country Focus: Georgia (Sak’art’velo in Georgian)
Stories I Stole: From Georgia
By Wendell Steavenson
Originally published in Great Britain by Atlantic Books in 2002.
My edition: Grove Press, 2002
About the author: Steavenson lived in Tbilisi, Georgia for two years. She has also written The Weight of a Mustard Seed: The Intimate Story of an Iraqi General and His Family During Thirty Years of Tyranny and Circling the Square: Stories from the Egyptian Revolution.
Steavenson is clearly fond of Georgia and its citizens. She traveled widely throughout the country and crafted stories that address the complex situations of Georgia’s many different ethnic groups. An informative ‘Ethnic Glossary’ complements the narrative.
Georgia was a funny place. Betsy and I had once tried to figure out why we liked it and why we had stayed so long. When nothing worked and the corruption was terrible and there was no electricity in the winter and nothing but heat in the summer. The cities were falling down and rusting, the countryside was scarred by the Soviets. Georgia was cut off from the world, poor and without much imagination. It did not like to go forward, it was happy enough wallowing in its traditions and wine. ‘I think it’s the quality of life,’ I told her. It sounded absurd, but Betsy nodded, she knew what I was talking about. ‘The little things, my neighbor bringing me varenie for the winter, strawberries that are soft and fresh and taste of real strawberries, being able to park right next to the post office, warm balcony evenings, friendliness, easiness. The pace of life is slower, it’s more comfortable-‘