The Road

Vasi­ly Grossman
  • Review
By – September 26, 2011

The Road res­ur­rects the writ­ings of Ukrain­ian-born author and Red Army jour­nal­ist, Vasi­ly Gross­man (1905 – 1964). It fea­tures a sam­pling of Grossman’s fic­tion sto­ries, non-fic­tion essays, and let­ters, inter­spersed with edi­to­r­i­al infor­ma­tion about his life as a writer, Par­ty mem­ber, and Sovi­et Jew. 

Grossman’s work, which com­pris­es the bulk of The Road, often focus­es on the moth­er- child rela­tion­ship and the mean­ing of liv­ing in the face of death. Gross­man grap­ples with the loss of his own moth­er at the hands of Ger­man invaders through heart-rend­ing let­ters he writes her after her death. These let­ters demon­strate the auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal nature of his fic­tion­al themes. The unnec­es­sar­i­ly dry edi­to­r­i­al notes includ­ed between sec­tions are less sat­is­fy­ing to read, but do offer con­text with­in Sovi­et his­to­ry and Grossman’s philo­soph­i­cal tra­jec­to­ry. At the cen­ter of the com­pi­la­tion sits the first com­plete pub­li­ca­tion of the shock­ing­ly vivid arti­cle, The Hell of Tre­blin­ka,” one of the ear­li­est writ­ten accounts of a Nazi death camp. Care­ful­ly placed at the halfway point, this piece serves to remind us of the mag­ni­tude of death and loss our author faces as he tries to under­stand life.

Danielle Min­dess is Edu­ca­tion Coor­di­na­tor for the Doe Fund’s Ready, Will­ing & Able pro­gram in New York City. She grad­u­at­ed with a B.A. in The­ater Stud­ies from Emory University.

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