Featured Non-Fiction 10/21

Armenian

An Armenian Sketchbook is Vassily Grossman’s loose account of his time spent in Soviet Armenia in 1961, while working on translating (fixing up a literal translation) of a long Armenian novel about a copper works (it can’t get any more Soviet than that!). The author had run into major trouble with the censors with his last novel and needed a break. He enjoys Armenia almost in spite of himself and visits. The translation from Russian is excellent and makes for compelling reading. Grossman really brings the people and the land around him to life. The last scene at the wedding is remarkable. You really get the feeling that Grossman understands the people even though he supposedly only knows two words of Armenian.

Highly recommended for those who enjoy travelogues, memoirs, Jewish writers, or books about Armenia or life in the Soviet Union. Which I’m pretty sure encompasses everyone.

Jennifer Stewart