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.