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Soviet novel scales UK bestseller lists

A brilliant novel by a Soviet writer Vasily Grossman, turned into a radio play on Radio 4, has stormed the British book market. Massive interest in the radio adaptation caused the UK residents go and buy the book.

­Life and Fate, which remained unpublished when the writer passed away, is finally getting the renown it deserves. After almost half a century it has been brought into daylight in a Radio 4 adaptation.

Russian Jew Vasily Grossman was not only a writer, but also a reporter, who saw WWII, covered the tragic events in Stalingrad and witnessed the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.

In Life and Fate the writer who had no other choice but to end up a dissident, exposed the horrors of the totalitarian Nazi and Soviet regimes and show the pain people endured. Scenes move from Moscow cabinets to Stalingrad bomb shelters.

Vasily Grossman
Vasily Grossman

The novel was written in the 1950s, while Stalin’s iron hand was still holding Russia tight. Of course the authorities could not allow its publication, and in 1961 the KGB confiscated every copy of the manuscript. It was a miracle that Grossman remained free. Shortly after, in 1964, the writer died of stomach cancer while his novel remained unpublished.

Newspaper reports in the UK are filled with stories about Vasily Grossman, who did not live to see Life and Fate published.

Last year Mark Damazer, former Controller of Radio 4, made the project of adapting the timeless masterpiece for the radio play possible. Damazer considered it one of the greatest novels of the 20th century and wanted the world to discover it too.