The Pear Field takes place in the 1990s in Tbilisi, capital of the recently independent country of Georgia. At the heart of the novel is the »School for Idiots«, a boarding school for »mentally deficient children«, actually visitied mostly by children whose parents are either dead or who have emigrated for economic reasons. Even the teachers leave the children and teens to their own devices.
The narrative unfolds from the point of view of 16-year-old Lela who has decided that she will murder Wano, the history teacher. Only over the course of the novel do the reasons become clear: sexual assault and even rape. However, Lela, a combative, angry young girl, has taken up the role of protector. She looks after the younger children, comforts them, and even tries to convince them to apply themselves, in other words, to study so that they can leave the School for Idiots behind. As strong as her hatred for the history teacher is, she has developed a tender, sister-like relationship with the boy Irakli. Every week Lela takes him to a nearby high-rise flat so he can talk on the phone with his mother in Greece. Irakli, however, refuses to believe what Lela has long known: his mother is never coming back, not even to pick him up. Lela nonetheless tries to encourage him and even manages to get him to learn English because she wants Irakli to have a better future. And then, one day, a married couple from the southern United States arrives and his dream threatens to become reality in a most bizarre way.
In Lela, Ekvtimishvili has created an extraordinary character from a disadvantaged background determined to escape her apparent destiny, make the best of herself and do her best for a similarly disadvantaged friend. A gem.
The Pear Field has won the most important awards in Georgia (Ilia State University Prize, Saba Literary Prize, Litera Prize) and has been included in the longlists of the International Booker Prize and the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation, as well as in the shortlist of the EBRD Literature Prize, all for in 2021 due to the English edition of the book.
Nana Ekvtimishvili, born in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 1978 is a writer and movie director and owns Georgia’s first chain of ice cream parlours. She studied screenwriting and dramaturgy in Potsdam-Babelsberg. She first published stories in 1999. In 2013, she and partner Simon Groß released the feature film In Bloom. It premiered at the 63rd Berlinale where it was hailed as the birth of the new Georgian wave and won the award the CICAE Award, followed by numerous awards film at festivals in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris, LA, and Sarajevo, and was Georgia’s entry for the 2014 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In 2013, Ekvtimishvili – again with Simon Gross – was chosen as one of the ten most promising European directors by Varietyʼs Ten Directors to Watch at the 48th Karlovy Vary Film Festival. Her latest film, My Happy Family, was first released at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017. Her first novel The Pear Fieldwas longlisted for the 2021 International Booker Prize.