'Everything Flows is as important a novel as anything written by Solzhenitsyn, and Robert Chandler's superb translation makes it a joy to read'
Ivan Grigoryevich has been in the Gulag for thirty years. Released after Stalin's death, he finds that the years of terror have imposed a collective moral slavery. He must struggle to find a place for himself in an unfamiliar world. Grossman tells the stories of those people entwined with Ivan's fate: his cousin Nikolay, a scientist who never let his conscience interfere with his career, Pinegin, the informer who had Ivan sent to the camps and Anna Sergeyevna, Ivan's lover, who tells of her involvement as an activist in the Terror famine of 1932-3.
Everything Flows is Vasily Grossman's final testament, written after the Soviet authorities suppressed Life and Fate.
'Vasily Grossman is the Tolstoy of the USSR' Martin Amis
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.