Friday, January 12, 2018

Generations of Winter by Vasily Aksyono (translated by John Glad and Christopher Morris), 592 pages

  Bound by love, blood, and years together, Gradov family members spanning three generations approach life individually in the midst of their socialist society. I was glad to get to know each person in this fictional, well-educated family whose best days center around the Gradov home in the Silver Forest on the outskirts of Moscow. With different fields of expertise and competing ideologies, each character faces the upheaval, purges, punishment, and war in different geographical places throughout the nation that was the Soviet Union from 1925-1945.
  I wouldn’t exactly say I’m a fan of Russian literature or history. Both are often a challenge to read with hard-to-face realities, but I’ve been glad to have read every bit of Russian literature that I’ve pushed on through. It fascinates me. This book is no exception.
  Multiple reviewers compare this novel to War and Peace; I see that the narrative styles of the two books could be compared. If you’ve read War and Peace, though, you’ll be getting an entirely different experience with Generations of Winter. This book covers a different historical period, hinges on close family relationships rather than on people from different segments of society, and incorporates a positive tone in spite of historically accurate, harsh, and even unsurvivable situations. Most Russian literature I’ve encountered presents a crumbling of personhood or a struggle to survive; this novel, however, shows how people live.
  It was worth the time to read and is a novel I would hold onto for another day if it were my own.

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