Life and Fate (Everyman's Library Contemporary Classics Series) (Hardcover)
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This sweeping epic novel about a family scattered across the Soviet Union and Europe during World War II is a monument of modern Russian literature by the writer hailed as “the Tolstoy of the USSR.”
Suppressed by the KGB and later smuggled out of the Soviet Union to be published, Life and Fate is a vivid and unsparing story of ordinary Russians caught between the fascism of the invading Nazis and the oppression of their own Soviet government. The sprawling plot follows the extended family of Viktor Shtrum along the vast eastern front of World War II. Shtrum is a brilliant nuclear physicist who faces anti-Semitism in Moscow while relatives of his face the threat of camps and prisons on both the Soviet and the Nazi sides.
In scenes that range from the dramatic battle of Stalingrad to the remote Siberian gulag, encompassing characters ranging from a grieving mother to a woman in love and from a six-year-old boy on the way to a gas chamber to Stalin and Hitler, Vasily Grossman’s masterpiece is a profound and moving reckoning with the darkness of the twentieth century and a testament to the stubborn persistence of kindness and hope.
About the Author
VASILY GROSSMAN (1905–1964) was born in Berdichev in Ukraine, in one of the largest Jewish communities in eastern Europe. After studying chemistry and working as an engineer, he was discovered by Maxim Gorky and began publishing his writing. During World War II, Grossman covered the defense of Stalingrad and the fall of Berlin and he wrote the first account of a German death camp. The manuscript of Life and Fate was seized by the KGB in 1960 and Grossman did not live to see it published, but it was smuggled out and published in Europe and North America in the early 1980s.
POLLY JONES is Associate Professor of Russian and Schrecker-Barbour Fellow at University College, University of Oxford. She has published widely on Soviet cultural history; she is the author of Revolution Rekindled and Myth, Memory, Trauma: Rethinking the Stalinist Past in the Soviet Union and is the editor of Writing Russian Lives: The Poetics and Politics of Russian Biography.