Another Epic Russian Novel

Whilst some have been enjoying War & Peace on the box, I’ve been engrossed in the writings of Anatoli Rybakov, and in particular his Children of the Arbat trilogy.

Rybakov grew up in Moscow’s Arbat district, spent a decade in Siberian exile, and was then decorated for his efforts in WWII.  That might have some influence on his tale.  There are others in the story however, and it is the warp and the weft of those lives through those times that fascinates.


You may recall my enjoyment of Petrograd, the first volume in William Owen Roberts trilogy, translated from the Welsh.  That started pre-Revolution.  However I need patience, for the second and third instalments are not due to be translated and published for a year or three yet.  I stayed with the Russian theme, enjoying Generations of Winter, from Vassily Aksyomov, which took us to those years of Stalin and Beria.

And it  is back to those times that Rybakov’s translation from the Russian takes us too.  It is an epic tale and I stayed with all three volumes uninterrupted, devouring close on 2,000 pages, as those children grow and live, and love, despite it all.  Hardships come, as schooling progresses through the Komsomol to the Party.  Marriages come and go.

Rybakov treats us to both sides of the ruble coin of the day as we follow careers to wherever they may lead, or be told to go.  Fifteen years or so after leaving school the war changes everything, including those careers.

Whilst much of the tale centres on the streets and the buildings of Moscow, and whatever may be hidden within, we travel further, eastwards of course, and to Paris.  Rybakov peppers his tale with the events of the days, with Stalin, and then with Hitler.  War comes to Russia and the inevitable route to Stalingrad.

You might just enjoy spending some time with Nina and Lena, Yuri and Sasha and all those that impacted on their lives.  There is much hardship, and much kindness; and there is much more than that.




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