The Ames phenomenon leads to an author event

A 944-page book titled “The Eighth Life (For Brilka)” was a huge hit at Dog-Eared Books, an independent bookstore in downtown Ames.

It sells at a rate of around 100: 1 compared to similar bookstores, and the success led to an in-store event at 11 a.m. on Sunday, which will feature a Zoom chat with author, Nino Haratischvili, and translators, Ruth Martin and Charlotte Collins.

“It’s a beautiful thing – just finding this book and how ridiculously widespread it is among the people of Ames,” said Peter Haleas, bookseller at Dog-Eared, who has started recommending the book to customers. “It’s a book about Georgian history – the country of Georgia – so for it to really sprout in Ames instead of any other place, it’s really beautiful. It made me really excited to come here and talk about the book with people and hear their comments.

The event will include the Zoom discussion with the author and translators as well as a discussion of the book with other readers. Dog-Eared Books has partnered with two other Ames businesses, Chocolaterie Stam and Windmill Coffee Co. Customers will be able to purchase “Nino’s Favorite Chocolates” and “Jashi” coffee, which are inspired by the Jashi family from the book and of their secret chocolate recipe. worn through generations.

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Haratischvili selected the four chocolates: dark chocolate mocha ganache, white chocolate praline with hazelnuts, milk chocolate marzipan and milk chocolate truffle. “Jashi Coffee” will be a specialty mocha created by Windmill Coffee Co.

“We will be traveling 3,963 miles around the world with the author in Tbilisi, Georgia,” said Haleas. “And we’re also going to be launching in the UK with translators, from here on Main Street in Ames, Iowa.”

Although Haratischvili speaks English, translators are included in the event because they helped make the English book successful, said Haleas.

How ‘the Eighth Life’ became an Ames phenomenon

Dog-Eared co-owner Amanda Lepper said the store likely wouldn’t even offer “The Eighth Life” without Haleas.

“I think that’s what makes independent bookstores so great,” she said. “Our curation – the books we have on the shelves – were chosen by people who love to read and really taste great. Peter is a very passionate reader, and we bring books that our booksellers are really passionate about.

She said she had only seen “The Eighth Life” at one other bookstore. The book was # 121,698 in Books on Amazon on Friday, but it was # 2 bestseller at Dog-Eared, where it was second only to the nationwide bestseller, “The Midnight. Library “.

“The national bestseller is selling everywhere,” said Ellyn Grimm, co-owner of Dog-Eared. “The sales that are happening here for ‘The Eighth Life’ are unique here because Peter brought it in and told people about it and got them excited.”

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“The Eighth Life” was translated from Georgian by two translators, Martin and Collins.

According to Lepper, only 2% of books available in English have been translated from other languages. “We therefore miss the stories of the world. It’s a unique story in Georgia, ”she said. “It shows the culture. It shows history. It shows the environment. It’s just a whole different perspective, which is what we’re trying to do as a bookstore – take people out of their own experiences and make them more empathetic with bigger eyes on the world.

Haleas first read “The Eighth Life” in Economist magazine. The book was translated and published in Great Britain eight months before its publication in the United States.

“We have about 11,000 titles in store, so what makes ‘The Eighth Life’ so connected with people? Haleas asked. “I think for Ames it’s such a strange and singular story, because what other Georgian stories are we going to meet?

“And I think of stories about freedom, oppression, and the ability to follow your dream – it’s something anyone in Ames can feel.”

Emily Golden, one of the readers of “The Eighth Life,” said the epic novel was a revelation to read.

“Epic and yet intimate, steeped in fantastic family traditions and yet relatable,” she wrote in the comments on the book. “Reading the story was like being whispered a secret. There is a strange urgency in Niza’s story as she struggles to tell her niece who the Jashi family is and where they are from, and this urgency has propelled me through the story with barely a pause.

Weighing nearly 2 1/2 pounds, the paperback looks intimidating, but readers find it “so readable,” Lepper said. “People are just burning through it. “

Haleas is offering the book as extra credit in the 250 English course he teaches at Iowa State. “One of my students read it in six days,” he said.

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