Life and Fate (iii)

During the first event at the BBC Radio 4 Life and Fate extravaganza in Oxford, concerning the adaptation of the book for the radio drama, a member of the audience asked the writers how they handled the character of Ikonnikov. The writers looked a little blank and had trouble summoning up precisely who Ikonnikov was…

War and Peace, the 4500 year old work of art

No, that’s not a typo in the title. I am referring to another great work of art on the subject of war and peace, one that wasn’t created by a Russian count with a big beard. I mean the so-called Standard of Ur, the 4500 year old Sumerian artefact discovered by Sir Leonard Woolley a…

Life and Fate (ii)

So, having muttered a bit about the book and the man, I can now turn my attention to events in Oxford last weekend. Last Friday (9th September) there was a ‘mini Grossman festival’ run by Radio 4 in St Peter’s College. It involved four events, the first being a discussion by the people behind the Radio 4 drama, which…

Life and Fate

Brace yourself: a literary time bomb is exploding as I type. Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate, one of the greatest books nobody’s heard of*, has just hit the number one spot on the bestseller list at Amazon.co.uk. Brace yourself again because I will probably be writing a lot about this for a while. I’ve just got back from a…