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March 13, 2017


Life and Fate

by N@ncy

Book facts:

  1. Vasily Grossman died of cancer in the Soviet Union in 1964.
  2. His novel Life and Fate was composed between  1950 to 1960.
  3. This is his most ambitious work
  4. …but was never published during his lifetime.
  5. This book contains scores of characters and several narratives:
  6. home life –  warfare – Jewish ghetto’s – concentration and labor camps.
  7. 71 chapters (part 1) –  63 chapters (part 2)-  61 chapters (part 3)
  8. This feels a bit excessive.
  9. Viktor’s (main character) mother’s letter from Jewish ghetto
  10. was the only chapter I really enjoyed in the entire book!
  11. The the turning point in the lives of many characters
  12. occurs exactly at the moment of the Russian victory at Stalingrad.
  13. Grossman’ s other books were more compact and to the point.
  14. Reading this book was a real chore.


  1. Fate and Life is marked as one of the best novels of 20th C.
  2. I am no so sure.
  3. Panoramic in scope and vivid social realism but weak on  writing.
  4. Grossman uses War and Peace as a structure for the book.
  5. Although  Life and Fate has been praised
  6. by others it is not the great Russian novel I was looking for.
  7. Disappointed.
2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mar 15 2017

    Sorry to read that you didn’t enjoy Life and Fate. I’d really got into it and enjoyed the scale of it and the way it tackled things like tyranny and anti-Semitism. By the end I’d grown rather fond of the Shaposnikovs as I guess that overcame some of the style issues for me – can see that for you it didn’t.


    • Mar 15 2017

      There were moments of brilliance….but it took so much effort to plow through many, many pages to find them. I loved Grossman’s books ‘Armenian Sketchbook’ and Writer at War…and was probably expecting the same type of writing style. Grossman was on a mission writing this book…some like it….some don’t. Glad to hear from you!



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