Sashura just sent me an amazing piece of news: Kenneth Branagh will be playing the central role of Viktor Shtrum in Radio 4’s forthcoming (in September) adaptation of Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate. Alison Hindell writes:
Producing the Radio 4 dramatisation of Life and Fate has been something of a revelation to me. The brainchild of Mark Damazer, former Controller of Radio 4, for whom it is the greatest novel of the twentieth century, it was for me entirely unknown.
Most listeners are in the same boat as me although, as a Russian speaker, I was surprised I didn’t even know the title. So I read it. And felt fairly convinced it was an impossible challenge. Fabulous prose, complex characters, beautifully translated but too long, too many characters to follow, what slot could possibly accommodate it?
Her explanation of how they decided to handle it is interesting and plausible. And while I wouldn’t go so far as to call it the greatest novel of the twentieth century, having gotten halfway through I’m quite sure it’s the greatest novel of WWII and should be far better known than it is. I’ll be writing more about it in due course; meanwhile I look forward to hearing this (assuming we Yanks will be vouchsafed the privilege).