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Everything Flows (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – December 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Series: New York Review Books Classics
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics; 1st Printing edition (December 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590173287
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590173282
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,330 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Few novels confront human suffering on as massive a scale as this one. After his release into post-Stalinist Russia, Ivan Grigoryevich finds that the 30 years he spent in Stalin's forced labor camps have wreaked terrible changes in himself and in Soviet society. He goes first to his cousin's Moscow apartment, but he and his wife are preoccupied with petty successes secured by cooperation with a state-sanctioned campaign of anti-Semitism. Ivan then travels to Leningrad, where he finds work in a metal shop and rents a room from a widow who falls in love with him and shares stories from her past (most notably the forced collectivization of Ukrainian farms), providing a counterbalance to Ivan's experiences in Siberia. Suffering is everywhere, but Grossman finds no glory or redemption in it, and just when you think things can't get bleaker, he offers up a new vignette that sinks deeper into misery, though there is a glimmer of hope toward the end. The prose is rough in spots, but Grossman's individual by individual portrayal of anguish gives readers a heartrending glimpse of the incomprehensible. (Nov.)
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Review

“A half century after his death, Vasily Grossman's fiction still provides harrowing insight into the legacy of Stalinism, and the historical trauma that continues to fuel ethnic tensions within Ukraine.” —NPR Books

"Vasily Grossman is the Tolstoy of the USSR" --Martin Amis

"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

A "brilliant and courageous novel...readers will find hope in the narrator's uncommon capacity to forgive and accept."–Library Journal

"Few novels confront human suffering on as massive a scale as this one....Grossman's individual by individual portrayal of anguish gives readers a heartrending glimpse of the incomprehensible. " --Publishers Weekly

"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

 

"Grossman traces the blame for the terror of the Stalin years back through Lenin, to the roots of the Russian character, to the mystical national soul that Russians have always considered their greatest strength...Grossman put his finger on the crux of the issue as today's Russians see it: What responsibility do they bear for the horrors perpetrated in the course of Russian and Soviet history?" --Los Angeles Times


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Customer Reviews

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I highly recommend them all, but if you have to read one book about the Soviet tragedy, read "Everything Flows."
S. Parry
One of Grossman's most penetrating analyses of the realities of Stalin's system, a classic ranking alongside Ginsburg and Solzhenitsyn's work.
ORR
Grossman was truly an amazing artist whose dedication to personal freedom made him an outcast and threat to the Soviet regime.
John Sollami

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Fleisig VINE VOICE on December 4, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I shared all this with my own people
There, where misfortune had abandoned us."
Anna Akhmatova's Requiem

If Life and Fate (New York Review Books Classics) may rightfully be seen as Vasily Grossman's masterpiece, his Everything Flows may rightfully be seen as his testament, a requiem if you will not only for his own life but for the lives of those who lived in his time and place.

"Everything Flows" tells a simple, yet emotionally deep and politically nuanced tale. The story begins with the 1957 return to Moscow of Ivan Grigoryevich after 30 years of forced labor in the Gulag. 1957 marked the year, following Khrushchev's denunciation of the excesses of Stalin, in which the tide of prisoners returning from the Gulag reached its peak. He arrives at the Moscow flat of his cousin Nikolay. Nikolay, a scientist with less than stellar skills, has reached some measure of success at the laboratory through dint of being a survivor. The meeting in the flat is entirely unsatisfactory for both parties. Grossman paints a vivid picture of Nikolay, more than a bit jealous that Ivan's light had always shone brighter than his own prior to Ivan's arrest. Nikolay suffers from the guilt of one who was not arrested and who is painfully aware of the choices he made to keep from being arrested. It seems clear that Ivan represents a mirror into which Nikolay can see only his own hollow reflection.

Ivan leaves Moscow for his old city of Leningrad, the place where he was first arrested in 1927. By chance, he runs into the person, Pinegin, whose denunciation placed him in jail in the first place.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By S. Parry on January 24, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just finished "Everything Flows." It is one of literature's great gifts, one of the most insightful and moving books I have ever read. In a way, it is both uplifting and humbling at the same time. I just cannot say enough about the "testament" that this book is. Through Grossman's work, we, in some small way, can bear witness to an entire, tragic era.

I will not repeat the details of Leonard Fleisig's outstanding and astute review of "Everything Flows," but simply add that this short book is a novella with connected essays that somehow reveals both the nature of the individual characters and of a whole society under siege. It is beautifully written and translated, and with great economy of style, Ivan and the other characters come alive and we seem to enter their inner beings.

I have read a great deal about the Soviet experience, including Grossman's "Life and Fate" and Simon Sebag Montefiore's biography of Stalin and Stephen Cohen's one on Bukharin as well as the wonderful novels of Victor Serge. I highly recommend them all, but if you have to read one book about the Soviet tragedy, read "Everything Flows."

I am so grateful to the New York Review of Books for retrieving so many lost treasures from the past.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Penelope V. Burt on December 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
A man returns from thirty years in the Gulag. He meets up with his cousin, who has done well, with the man who denounced him, with a woman--his landlady--who becomes his lover and tells him about her experiences, her complicity in the Ukrainian terror famine (a devastating chapter). The man meditates on the nature of Russia and the totalitarian state. This magnificent novel does not really have a plot, in the sense of a narrative with a beginning, middle, and end where everything gets tied up in a satisfactory knot. As the very title indicates, everything flows and keeps on flowing. Nor will you find here Solzhenitsyn's savage indignation, but at the same time, in reading Grossman's novel you don't get off the hook by feeling that any of these people are so alien to you or to what you might have done or not done under similar circumstances. And as Chandler so beautifully puts it in his introduction, "Any story, truly told and truly listened to, can become a gift."
The book includes an introduction, notes, a chronology--all very helpful. There is a previous translation of this novel (under the title Forever Flowing), which Chandler's version totally supersedes.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Bryan Byrd on August 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
It's difficult for me to write about a moving piece of literature that doesn't resort to cheap hyperbole, expecially when all the overused descriptions and praises seem to fit. Yet 'Everything Flows' is a novel that truly does stand head and shoulders above its peers; quietly though, with little fanfare - befitting the shape and form of its content. Reminiscent of Taduesz Borowski's 'This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen' in its austere insights into human behavior, 'Everything Flows' takes Borowski's chilling observations one step further and seeks to locate the slumbering humanity within the inhuman chaos of terror amd cruelty. Where Borowski mercilessly lacerates us with the horror of the concentration camp, where fear stamps out everything human, Vasily Grossman describes the injustice of the gulag and of the State, and forgivingly looks for the redeemable within the worst of us.

Unfinished at the time of Grossman's death, 'Everything Flows' is the story of Ivan Grigoryevich, a man returning to Moscow after thirty years in a labor camp. He is released during Krushchev's 'thaw', and though the novel begins with Ivan's attempt to reintegrate into the world, as it progresses he transforms into a sort of reflective leitmotiv, one in which all segments of Soviet society can plainly see themselves. His journey toward resolution, often interupted by authorial interludes, is an examination of a people reared by and brought to heel by the State - they are complicit and victim all at once, and Grossman suggests temperance rather than recrimination.

Grossman is not rhetorical nor sentimental, but I find it difficult not to be affected by his sparse lyricism and plain honesty.
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