Shelfari edited the description of The Road Wednesday, August 18, 2010.
The writer whom Vasily Grossman loved most of all was Anton Chekhov. Grossman’s own short stories are no less accomplished than his novels, and they are remarkably varied. “The Dog” is about the first living creature to be sent into space and then returned to Earth. “The Road,” an account of the war from a mule in an Italian artillery regiment, can be read as a 4,000-word distillation of Life and Fate. “Mother” is based on a true story about an orphaned girl who was adopted by Nikolay Yezhov (head of the NKVD at the height of the Great Terror) and his wife; it includes brief portraits of Stalin and several important Soviet writers and politicians—all of them as seen through the eyes of the little girl or of her honest but uncomprehending peasant nanny. As well as a dozen stories—from “In the Town of Berdichev” (Grossman’s first published success) to “In Kislovodsk” (the last story he wrote)—this volume includes an unusual article about the life of a Moscow cemetery. It also contains two letters Grossman wrote to his mother, after her death at the hands of the Nazis, and the complete text of “The Hell of Treblinka,” one of the very first, and still among the most powerful, accounts of a Nazi death camp.