Books

Everything Flows

Everything Flows Vasily Grossman (Estate)
Pub date 1st December 2009
Original publisher Journal Oktyabr (Russia), 1989
International publishers Fraktura (Croatia), Ullstein (Germany), Govostis (Greece), Europa (Hungary), Misuzu Shobo (Japan), De Geus (Netherlands), W.A.B. (Poland), Dom Quixote (Portugal), Athar (Saudi Arabia), Galaxia Gutenberg (Spain), Historiska Media (Sweden), Can (Turkey)
Publisher (UK) Harvill Secker
Publisher (US) The New York Review of Books

First published by the journal Oktyabr in Moscow in 1989 and in book form in the collection ‘Vse techet: pozdnyaya proza’ by Slovo, Moscow, 1994

Translated from the Russian by Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler and Anna Aslanyan

Grossman wrote a first draft of Everything Flows in the mid 1950s.  Like many of his works, it began as a response to an event of historical importance – in this case, the release of hundreds of thousands of prisoners from the Gulag.  This is a story of a man returning home after 20 years in the Gulag, and his attempt to come to terms with a new-found freedom.

Ivan Grigoryevich is a political prisoner who set free after Stalin’s death, having endured thirty years in Siberia. Returning to the fragments of his former life, and encountering those whose lies sent him to the Gulag, he finds that the years of terror have destroyed ordinary decency and imposed a collective moral slavery. The central story of Ivan’s struggle to find a place in an unfamiliar world is simple yet moving. The reader is given only the bare bones of Ivan’s story – Grossman had too much to say and too short a time to live to concern himself with conventional novel-writing. Interspersed with Ivan’s story are other stories. A miniature play – a mock-trial of four different informers – is a subtle examination of the pressures that force people to compromise with an evil regime. The novel is also concerned with the ‘Russian soul’, with Lenin and Stalin, Moscow prisons in 1937 and the fate of women in the Gulag. It is written in a bold, perceptive and uncompromising style. His account of the least known act of genocide of the last century – the “Terror Famine” that killed around five million Ukrainian peasants in 1932-33 – is unbearably lucid, comparable in its power only to the last cantos of Dante’s Inferno.

Praise for Everything Flows

“After he submitted his masterful World War II novel Life and Fate to a publisher in 1960, the KGB confiscated the manuscript, his notes and even his typewriter (the book was later smuggled out of the country and printed in 1974). But this didn’t quiet Grossman, whose indictments of Stalinist Russia were at least as damning as those of George Orwell and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Understandably bitter over the suppression of his work, the author worked on Everything Flows—a shorter, but even more eviscerating, meditation on the monstrous results of the Soviet experiment—until his death from cancer in 1964. This new translation brings his searing vision to light… Fortunately, the KGB couldn’t keep Grossman’s books under wraps forever. His testament stands as a fitting tribute to the millions of voices that were prematurely silenced.”

– Drew Toal, Time Out New York

“…a richly-woven narrative of historical events and individual destinies — a masterpiece of pain, moral outrage and gallows humour. Grossman has become recognised not only as one of the great war novelists of all time but also as one of the first and most important of witnesses to the defence of Stalingrad, the fall of Berlin, the consequences of the Holocaust”

Business Standard

“Vasily Grossman is the Tolstoy of the USSR.”

– Martin Amis

“This courageous novel, first published in samizdat, is a compelling restatement of some old truths about the fundamental and ineluctable nature of freedom.”

– New & Noteworthy, The New York Times

“Remarkable…it trembles with the vision of freedom.”

– Irving Howe, The New York Times

“[I]t is as eloquent a memorial to the anonymous little man in the Stalinist state as Dr. Zhivago is to the artistic spirit in post-Czarist Russia and The First Circle to the scientific intelligentsia.”

– Thomas Lask, The New York Times

“A brilliant and courageous novel…readers will find hope in the narrator’s uncommon capacity to forgive and accept.”

Library Journal

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