Arts & Culture

Reviewed: “The Road” By Vasily Grossman

Inspired by Chekhov and admired by greats like Pushkin and Babel, Grossman’s work could almost be mistaken as an influence post-World War 2 nonfiction luminaries like Joan Didion and Norman Mailer — if only his work would had been translated earlier. Read More

By / November 15, 2010
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2010, NYRB Classics, 384 pages

Translated by Elizabeth Chandler, edited by Robert Chandler.

At some point I couldn’t bring myself to read another book about the Holocaust, Hitler, or anything else on Germany and WWII.  I felt like I was perpetually taking a class in “Hitler Studies,” like the ones in Don DeLillo’s White Noise.  So many writers have attempted to rationalize, lionize and in some cases, fictionalize stories about the Holocaust; some have made lucrative careers writing about the millions who died, and those that carried out the deed of systematic murder.

Nobody did it quite as well as Vasily Grossman. His report “The Hell of Treblinka” was one of the first to report on an extermination camp, and was used as testimony in the Nuremberg trials. “Treblinka” is included in the recently published book, The Road — an original collection of Grossman’s short stories, essays, and letters translated into English for the first time.

Inspired by Chekhov and admired by greats like Pushkin and Babel, Grossman’s work could almost be mistaken as an influence post-World War 2 nonfiction luminaries like Joan Didion and Norman Mailer — if only his work would had been translated earlier.  Instead, this collection serves as a fantastic view into the man’s work, and will hopefully lead readers to seek out his two books of fiction put out a few years earlier.