In the struggle for the Caucasus between czarist Russia and Turkey all the Ubykhs and more than half the Abkhasians migrated across the Black Sea. The Ubykhs with their ancient history and culture ceased to exist.
Bagrat Shinkuba's novel, The Last of the Departed, is about how the Ubykh people became extinct in a historically brief period.
It happened not so long ago and within the lifetime of one Ubykh man, the main hero of the novel, the centenarian Zaurkan Zolak. His story is unfolded in the manuscript written by an Abkhasian linguist, Sharakh Kvadzba. The scholar goes to Turkey in 1940 spending two months there looking for people who still speak the Ubykh language. Finally he meets a man who calls himself an Ubykh...
The elder's life story is full of adventures and twists of fate. It presents a historically accurate picture of Ubykhs' tragedy. Obviously, this happened not only because they died of bullets and epidemics. The old Ubykh is plagued by the question, "Could it have been otherwise?"
And this is also of concern to the author, Bagrat Shinkuba, who finds the
answer in the Abkhasian proverb: He who loses his country loses all.