Join us for an evening with Leo Vardiashvili as he talks about his debut novel Hard by a Great Forest, a page-turning tale of family, sacrifice and our never-ceasing battle with the past.

‘Tbilisi’s littered with memories that await me like landmines. The dearly departed voices I silenced long ago have come back without my permission. The situation calls for someone with a plan. I didn’t even bring toothpaste.’

Saba’s father is missing, and the trail leads back to Tbilisi, Georgia. It’s been two decades since Irakli fled his war-torn homeland with two young sons, now grown men. Two decades since he saw their mother, who stayed so they could escape. At long last, Tbilisi has lured him home. But when Irakli’s phone calls stop, a mystery begins.

Arriving in the city as escaped zoo animals prowl the streets, Saba picks up the trail of clues: strange graffiti, bewildering messages transmitted through the radio, pages from his father’s unpublished manuscript scattered like breadcrumbs. As the voices of those left behind pull at the edges of his world, Saba will discover that all roads lead back to the past, and to secrets swallowed up by the great forests of Georgia.

In a winding pursuit through the magic and mystery of returning to a lost homeland, Hard by a Great Forest is a rare, searching tale of home, memory and sacrifice – of one family’s mission to rescue one another, and put the past to rest.

Hard by a Great Forest is Bloomsbury’s lead debut fiction release of Spring 2024. We look forward to welcoming Leo Vardiashvili to Booka in Bridgnorth to celebrate the publication of this special novel.

Tickets: £8 without book (Admits One, ticket redeemable against a signed copy of Hard by a Great Forest) or £17 with book (Admits One, includes a signed copy of Hard by a Great Forest).

Buy tickets