Children of the Arbat

Anatoli Rybakov, Author, Harold Shukman, Translator Little Brown and Company $19.95 (685p) ISBN 978-0-316-76372-1
Anatoli Rybakov waited 20 years for his part-autobiographical, part-historical novel about life in the Soviet Union during the early 1930s to be released in his own country. In those two decades, virtually no one has had the opportunity to read this masterfully written, painstakingly detailed, illuminating epic set during a short period under Josef Stalin's rule. Now American readers can confirm its importance both as literary fiction and as witness to a turbulent era. Sasha Pankratov is a loyal Communist youth leader from the Arbat section of Moscow. Because he is not afraid to participate in arguments at committee meetings, and because his uncle, an industrial commissar, is not without enemies, Sasha slips into the paradoxical position of being accused of subversion. His travail takes him through the Moscow prison system and eventually into Siberian exile, a difficult life that, incredibly, was still not as bad as the work camps. Besides Sasha, Rybakov (Heavy Sands) focuses on Sasha's heartbroken mother, a frivolous girlfriend and a seedy classmate bound for service with the notorious NKVD; thus we follow the daily privations of Moscow life in counterpoint to Sasha's ordeal. Rybakov's most remarkable accomplishment, however, is the intimate portrayal of Stalin himself. This archly paranoid plotter who tenderly associates his father with film tramp Charlie Chaplin, guilefully locks horns with Leningrad party chief Sergei Kirov and parries with his noble little private dentist is a fearsome historical giant masterly transferred to the pages of a significant addition to the ranks of modern fiction. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/25/1988
Release date: 05/01/1988
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 647 pages - 978-0-440-20353-7
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