Zaza Burchuladze

Mineral Jazz Novel. Bakur Sulakauri Publishing. Tiflis 2003. 176 pages
Awards: 2003 Tsinandali Literary Award for Best Novel

The title of the novel says it all! Instead of following a central theme in a tidy and well-behaved manner, the reader is faced with a meandering text full of red-herrings, wild goose chases, circuitous detours and evocations – just like jazz! It is as if the novel has been fed from a fountain of Caucasian spring water, bubbling over with traditional, classical Georgian fables full of oriental magic.

At the very beginning the story appears to be a combination of thriller and family saga or to be more precise, a parody of both. In the dressing room of the circus building in Tiflis, where the Russian state circus is making a guest appearance, the old magician Count Orlov dies just before his act is about to begin. At the same time the Russian circus bear is having a skir- mish with a circus-hand, mauls him, escapes and runs off.

The local investigator desperately tries to solve the case, which may simply have been caused by tragic circumstances. The search for the culprits beco- mes a crazy roller-coaster ride like the capitalism that had been recently introduced to Georgia. The course of the investigation is complicated not only by the colourful but evasive collection of acrobats, jugglers and con- jurers from Russia, but also by the apparent involvement of the Ochigava family. And in the end the investigator even ends up on the devil’s official website.

The author seems to show little interest in solving the case, but devotes himself more to involving the reader at every unexpected twist and turn of the novel in a cheeky, teasing discussion. In this way the author and reader end up in a parallel discussion about both the possibility and the unlike- lihood of straightforward investigations and narrations. The novel is like a tangled web whose kaleidoscopic fragmentation is only completely reas- sembled in the mind of the reader.