Blake Eskin’s brief discussion of the Russian Jewish novelist Vasily Grossman’s epic Life and Fate and how it “draws parallels between fascism and Communism and the use of mass deportation, forced labor, and murder in both totalitarian regimes,” brought to mind Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands, which books critic Adam Kirsch reviewed last week and which treats all the mass Nazi and Soviet killings from eastern Germany to western Russia between 1933 and 1945 as worthy of a single study.
It sounds like chilling stuff. “Never read Dostoevsky in winter,” Eskin advises, and Life and Fate may fall into the same category. But Eskin’s introduction and interview with Robert Chandler, Grossman’s foremost English translator, will tide you over until it is spring, or at least until you get your hands on Grossman’s shorter, more weather-appropriate works.
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.