Le Monde has called Life and Fate “the greatest Russian novel of the twentieth century,” and Martin Amis once described its author, Vasily Grossman, as “the Tolstoy of the USSR.” Now, if you haven’t read the novel, you can begin to understand the reason for all of the high praise.
Starting this week, the BBC will air an eight-hour dramatization of the masterpiece that offered a sweeping account of the siege of Stalingrad, one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. Although originally written in 1959, the book was officially censored in the Soviet Union until 1988 because, in the estimation of the apparatchiks, it threatened to do more harm to the USSR than Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago.
Kenneth Branagh and David Tennant star in the 13-episode series that will be broadcast from 18 to 25 September on Radio 4. You can access the audio files online or via iTues, RSS Feed, and other formats here.
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