An irreverent novella in Tbilisi has provoked a culture war that has Georgians fighting over the limits of individual freedom.
The work, titled Saidumlo Siroba (Holy Crap), takes swipes at the Georgian Orthodox Church, Georgian patriotism and Georgian mothers. It has become a William Burroughs-style bizarro bestseller, generating more shock and outrage than literary acclaim.
The book's attack on religion and nationalism, often viewed as overlapping concepts in Georgia, has generated most of the fury. The loopy plot involves a plan developed by two teenage boys to kill women en masse via a secret virus in order to encourage men to opt for homosexuality. The twosome meet at a government-financed youth Patriot Camp, described as a gathering place for "the morally incorruptible children of a morally corrupt nation."
The book's 20-year-old author, Erekli Deisadze, says he did not set out to provoke trouble. Dismissing accusations that his book promotes an agenda, Deisadze, appearing on a talk show June 8 broadcast on Imedi TV, insisted that "[l]iterature is not moral or immoral. It is amoral."
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Giorgi Lomsadze is a freelance reporter based in Tbilisi.