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The Naked King /by Rati Ratiani/

Size: 137x198 mm
Number of pages: 94
Paperback, Logos Press
One of the most promising debutants in contemporary Georgian prose, Rati Ratiani chose 7 out of her numerous short stories to present in her first publication "The Naked King". The young author reveals maturity far beyond her age both in the content and form of its delivery in her short prose.

The world in her stories is mainly urban, its heroes are casual people as well though Ratiani manages to cast a totally different light on them, rediscover their everyday lives. Their vain search for something meaningful that makes life worth living transcends them into symbols, generalized images of lower-middle class youth in Georgia.

Rati Ratiani's prose is witty and intelligent. Her merits are doubled by the fact that she as a debutant is one of the rare exceptions in contemporary Georgian prose who managed to find her unique style of narration; distinguished and easily identifiable.




     Extract from the story Bravo Pur Le Clown

     It is a warm, tranquil, transparent, deceptive autumn day when one thinks the winter has stepped back for at least a month and a half. Passers-by are unusually peaceful, as if they have shoved their everyday problems into some dark corners and are able to smile as a result. Just a smile instead of hysterical gestures, which substitute laughter and happiness as a rule. On days like this, people seem to get rid of the murky film covering their eyes and see everything clearly. Even the asphalt doesn't look perilous like a precipice – one can walk without undue fear. Young N. has been working in the Standard Bank for three years now. He is wearing a red tie, gladly demonstrating it during his breaks when he steps out into the street. These ties are worn only by the Standard Bank employees, but in order to avoid any potential misunderstanding, he also wears a badge with the bank logo. It means that unlike many others, he hasn't been made redundant due to the financial crisis, that he has nothing in common with the army of the unemployed rambling along the pavement and that he has a high salary and a cozy flat. True, his credit is occasionally overdrawn, but it's not a huge problem. And the fact that he doesn't have a beauty for a wife and blue-eyed son yet, doesn't make him imperfect at all. So, N. is returning from his break. A petite young woman is walking fast in front of him. She is wearing a checkered coat and a green beret. Her hair is hidden – might be fluffy auburn, straight long brown or even blond. What if she's got a somewhat strange shoulderbag – these days girls love things their grannies used to wear. The heels of her brown shoes are quite worn, but that's all right. There are plenty of beautiful girls in the world preferring a modest style in clothes but standing out for their individuality.
     Frankly speaking, he surely favoured these types over those haughty beauties overdressing in posh boutiques. The girl is heading towards his bank to pay her phone bill, probably, or get her stipend – her kinds always study hard. N. overtakes her, hastening to open the door for her. 'Please, Miss.' The door opens noiselessly, lazily turning on the hinges.
     N. stares at a pair of horn-rimmed glasses and hands sprinkled with age pigment spots. They are going to remember the story for a long time in the Bank and pester N. with harmless jokes. On his part, N. will be forever haunted by dread for young women. From now on he is going to overtake any female in tight jeans and on 3-inch heels and have a good look at them in order to check with his own eyes. It really wasn't the red-tie bank clerk's fault that a young, handsome young man worked part-time as a choir leader in an old people's home. And that all grannies, without exception, took fancy of him, but one in particular. Just two blocks away from the Bank, on the third floor of an old house, in the sitting-room, a good century older and creakier than her, this elderly lady sat until midnight looking through the photographs of her young days. In the morning she took pains to dress up for the rehearsal in the concert hall. She didn't pay much attention to the mad, hostile world around her, actually thought it quite harmless. She even tore a phone number off the advertisement glued to a lamp-post, inviting people of all ages to learn national and ball dances. Driven by her battle spirit, she only wished to outdo her rivals. What business took her to the bank? Once a month she used to collect her pension there, nothing else.
     Why the hurry? The forecast for tomorrow is wind and rain, but today it is a warm, tranquil, transparent, deceptive autumn day when one thinks the winter has stepped back for at least a month and a half. Instead of ordinary passers-by, I seem to be looking into the faces of the loved ones. They walk past me, disappear behind me, but I don't look back at them. I don't overtake them. I just walk on as my credit is up. So, listen.


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