A notable Russian author and journalist, Vasily Grossman bore witness to some of the most pivotal events of the 20th century and wrote about them with courage and truth. In the 1930s Grossman left his job as a chemical engineer in Stalin’s Soviet Union to become a short story writer. Whilst a committed Socialist, Grossman was critical of the Soviet policy of collectivization and personally intervened with the head of the NKVD to protect his new wife during the Stalinist purges.
During World War II, he worked as a war correspondent and posted some of the first reportage about the horrors of the Holocaust, whilst his experiences during the Battle of Stalingrad would feed into his recently rediscovered novel of the same name. Growing disillusionment with the post-war Soviet regime led to increasing persecution and the censorship of his great masterpiece, Life and Fate – dubbed the War and Peace of the 20th century.
Grossman died of stomach cancer in 1964, his greatest work still suppressed. Life and Fate was finally published in Switzerland in 1980 and in the Soviet Union eight years later, thanks to fellow dissidents reconstructing the text from a smuggled microfilm.
The resuscitation of Vasily Grossman’s prequel to the monumental Life and Fate is a testament to meticulous research and translation. A peerless invocation of the brutal battle of Stalingrad, the novel is kaleidoscopic in its treatment of the inhabitants and soldiers caught in the wholesale carnage of one of the most devastating encounters in military history.
'In Stalingrad, Grossman transforms his reportage into a work of lyrical art and fierce power. His descriptions of battle in an industrial age are some of the most vivid ever written.' - The Guardian