28 October 08 | Chad W. Post

Over at Beyond Hall 8 there’s a piece by Edward Nawotka about a protest by GWARA (Georgian Writers Against Russian Aggression) featuring four Georgian authors. Each of the four authors wrote an essay for the event, and the one by David Tursashvilli that Nawotka includes is brilliant:

I feel ashamed yet I have to tell you about this.

After the Russians began their air strikes on Tbilisi I couldn’t think of anything better to do than bring my children down to the yard and then go back to my apartment to find the Russian books we had at home. I had decided to take the books by Russian authors and burn them in front of my children as a sign of protest. However at the last moment I changed my mind.

God saved me from doing this awful thing. I remembered Milan Kundera, who once argued with Joseph Brodsky over the Prague Spring, wondering why the Russians had brought death to Prague with tanks, not books as they once had promised. I still believe that books have much greater power than any bomb. If I had burnt these particular books, how could I have then explained this to my kids?

Though I couldn’t burn their books that day, I nevertheless decided to take them to the Russian Embassy and return them to the people who let us down so much and instead of Chekhov and Dostoyevsky gave us Putin and Medvedev. I collected them up, but at the last moment I decided not to give them back to the Russians. Why? Because I couldn’t tell my daughters more than Tolstoy did when he wrote about Natasha Rostova preparing for her first ball.

Instead my children and I made paper planes, wrote slogans on their wings and in response to the Russian air strikes started to attack the Russian Embassy. We are going to organize a protest action against the Russian aggression here too. Please don’t think that it doesn’t concern you. There are no wards which are only somebody else’s , and sooner or later some war will concern all of us.

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