Robert Chandler, the translator of Vasily Grossman's epic Stalingrad, the prequel to Life and Fate, explains why the novel has only been published in English for the first time 50 years after it was written and why it's an essential World War Two novel.
Vasily Grossman was born in 1905. In 1941, he became a war reporter for the Red Army newspaper Red Star and came to be regarded as a legendary war hero. Life and Fate, his masterpiece, was considered a threat to the totalitarian regime, and Grossman was told that there was no chance of the novel being published for another 200 years. Grossman died in 1964.