As science editor of Pravda , Gubaryev was the first journalist to visit Chernobyl after the explosion of the nuclear reactor. Horrified by what he saw, Gubaryev felt that a straight news report was inadequate; portrayal of this devastating event required a a larger genre. Sarcophagus is the result. Set in a medical ward of the Institute of Radiation Safety, the play is peopled with physicians, researchers, and victims, all of whom try to understand what has happened and why, and what it means for them, their country, and humanity. Although lacking in literary subtleties, there are other, perhaps more important, reasons for reading this play, written with such compelling urgency. Recommended. Joyce S. Toomre, Harvard Univ.