Grossman and Shalamov.

Reviewing Nature’s Embrace the other day reminded me that two books sent by the publisher, the excellent New York Review Books, have been sitting around for months waiting for me to get around to them; for one reason and another, even though I’m excited about them and am looking forward to reading them, I haven’t yet and probably won’t get to them for some time, so guilt is forcing me to at least let you know that they exist and are worth having.

Vasily Grossman’s Stalingrad is the precursor to his great Life and Fate (which I wrote about here); it’s been translated by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler, and you can read the publisher’s blurb and quotes from rave reviews here.

Varlam Shalamov’s Sketches of the Criminal World, translated by Donald Rayfield, contains those Kolyma stories not included in the collection I raved about here; I’m sure everything I said there is applicable to this handsome volume, and it’s wonderful that these dense, sometimes unbearable masterpieces are available in full to the English-speaking reader.

My thanks go out as always to NYRB, which publishes great books and makes them available to a wide audience. Keep it up!


  1. Shouldn’t their publishing arm be called the New York Review of Books Books?

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