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Generations of Winter

Generations of Winter

5.0 1
by Vassily Aksyonov, Christopher Morris (Translator), Vasilii Pavlovich Aksenov

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Compared by critics across the country to War and Peace for its memorable characters and sweep, and to Dr. Zhivago for its portrayal of Stalin's Russia, Generations of Winter is the romantic saga of the Gradov family from 1925 to 1945. "A long, lavish plunge into another world."—USA Today.


Compared by critics across the country to War and Peace for its memorable characters and sweep, and to Dr. Zhivago for its portrayal of Stalin's Russia, Generations of Winter is the romantic saga of the Gradov family from 1925 to 1945. "A long, lavish plunge into another world."—USA Today.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The exiled Russian author of The Burn and In Search of Melancholy Baby has attempted a daring coup in this huge, panoramic novel of Soviet life from 1925 to 1945: nothing less than a War and Peace for the 20th century. Aksyonov is a thoroughly self-conscious artist, and his lofty ambition seems quite clear. The fact that he has come astonishingly close to realizing it is the great news about this engulfing work. We meet the Gradov family at their dacha outside Moscow a few years after the Revolution. Boris is an esteemed surgeon, the epitome of the old intellectual bourgeoisie; his wife Mary is a lover of Chopin; their son Nikita a dashing young Red Army officer with a beautiful wife; second son Kirill is a prim young Marxist; and daughter Nina is a wild bohemian poet. Their warm, peaceful house is a refuge as the world darkens around them, the paranoia in the Kremlin grows and Stalin's star rises. In the terrible 1930s, both sons are swept into the legion of the disappeared; then, as war begins and the Germans approach Moscow, Nikita's military skills bring him back, ironically, to a position of great military power. All this is told in a style that is at once headlong, ruminative and at times wildly surreal. Aksyonov offers interludes in which animals, trees and birds interact with the human creatures; he also includes contemporary press clippings of the kind John Dos Passos utilized in USA . The effect is to create a dazzling kaleidoscope of emotion and action that is at once profoundly Russian and movingly universal. The horrors of Siberian exile and of the bitter battlefronts in Poland and the Ukraine have seldom been more powerfully evoked--even by Solzhenitsyn. Once accustomed to the book's strange rhythms and sometimes exotic angles of vision, a reader will be quite transported into a world that is by turns poignant and crushing. (June)
Library Journal
Sprawling from 1925, when Russia was still in ferment, until 1945, when Stalin held it in his deadly grip, this fast-paced historical novel uses the story of the Gradov family to illuminate the tragic fate of the Russian people. From the beginning, noted surgeon Boris Nikitovich Gradov wrestles with his conscience in the face of revolutionary demands, while his children-Nikita, a career officer with doubts about his role in suppressing the Kronstadt uprising; Troskyite poet Nina; and dedicated Communist Kirill-represent the dissenting viewpoints that flourished for a time after the Bolsheviks won out. Both sons inexplicably end up in the Gulag, though Nikita is rescued from the brink of death when Hitler invades and skilled officers are needed to command the ranks. Aksyonov's characters are occasionally wooden or stereotypical, but he paints on a broad canvas, and his sweep is impressive; even readers unschooled in the events he depicts will finish this book with a sober understanding that ``all of modern Russian history looks like a series of breakers-waves of retribition.'' Recommended for most collections.-Barbara Hoffert, ``Library Journal''
John Banville
"When Generations of Winter faxcilie axion is set out bravely, one might even say brazenly, to write a 20th-century war and peace, mingling fictional and historical characters in a great sprawling saga tracing the history of the Soviet Union....I am prepared to believe that (this novel) will live for a very long time, and be seen as one of the more significant historical and literary achievement of a terrible century." -- The New York Review of Books

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Vintage International Series
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Product dimensions:
5.23(w) x 7.99(h) x 1.32(d)

Meet the Author

A leading Soviet writer, Vassily Aksyonov was forced to emigrate from the Soviet Union in 1980 after frequent clashes with government authorities made it increasingly difficult for him to publish there. After his emigration, Aksyonov lived in Fairfax, Virginia, and was a professor at George Mason University. He died in 2009 at the age of 76.

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5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Aksyonov's novel, Generations in Winter, is one of the most emotionally gripping and powerful novels I have read. The book delicately blends the macro view of Soviet history and a micro view of one extended family's struggle through that history. Aksyonov manages to give one a broad historical understanding of the time, a psychological empathy for the Russian people who had to cope with the Communist government, and a powerful emotional attachment to the characters. You will not want the novel to end, and you will be grateful that there is a sequel, 'The Winter's Hero,' which I also highly recommend.