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Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman

Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman

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A book judged so dangerous in the Soviet Union that not only the manuscript but the ribbons on which it had been typed were confiscated by the state, Life and Fate is an epic tale of World War II and a profound reckoning with the dark forces that dominated the twentieth century.

Interweaving a transfixing account of the battle of Stalingrad with the story of a single middle-class family, the Shaposhnikovs, scattered by fortune from Germany to Siberia, Vasily Grossman fashions an immense, intricately detailed tapestry depicting a time of almost unimaginable horror and even stranger hope.

Life and Fate juxtaposes bedrooms and snipers’ nests, scientific laboratories and the Gulag, taking us deep into the hearts and minds of characters ranging from a boy on his way to the gas chambers to Hitler and Stalin themselves.

This novel of unsparing realism and visionary moral intensity is one of the supreme achievements of modern Russian literature.


"Vasily Grossman is the Tolstoy of the USSR." —Martin Amis

“What better time to read Life and Fate, Vasily Grossman’s epic novel about the second world war, to put our current troubles into perspective? Grossman’s book, which traces the fate of the family of the brilliant physicist Viktor Shtrum at the time of the Battle of Stalingrad, records how humanity endured the monstrous evils of Nazism and Stalinism, surviving like weeds in the cracks of concrete slabs.”—John Thornhill, Financial Times

“One of the greatest works of literature to come out of Russia during the 20th century, Life and Fate could be looked at as the closest thing the Second World War had to a War and Peace. An absolute sprawling and haunting masterpiece that should be on every list.” —Flavorwire

“A delightfully readable 2006 translation by Robert Chandler, this edition preserves nearly all the color of Russian sayings and dark humor while remaining a devastating portrait of Stalin's Russia. Grossman shows how Russian communism was a moral and ideological dead end, an almost exact counterpart to Hitler's Nazism that was preordained from the moment Lenin began killing his opponents instead of talking to them. . . . In the end, he leads the reader to the inescapable conclusion that Communism, like Nazism, had only one goal: power. Coming from a man who once sat in on the privileged inner circles of this government, as an acclaimed journalist and author, this is a devastating message indeed.” —Forbes

Publisher: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 978-1590172018
Pages: 896