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Babi Yar


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About the Author

A. Anatoli (Kuznetsov) was born in Kyiv in 1929. After training in ballet and acting and working as a carpenter and builder, Anatoli succeeded in forging a career as a writer. His books were heavily censored by the Soviet authorities but they were very successful, selling a total of about seven million copies in the Soviet Union, and were translated into more than thirty languages. Most famous was Babi Yar, published in Russian in 1966. On the day the Soviet Army invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, Anatoli made a decision to leave the Soviet Union. He photographed all his manuscripts, both the unpublished volumes and the originals of censored works. The K.G.B. refused him permission to travel abroad and demanded that he collaborate with them as an informer. This he pretended to agree to, writing a fictitious report to convince them. He then received permission to travel to London for fourteen days to gather material for a book about Lenin. Arriving in London on 24 July 1969, with the film of his manuscripts hidden in the lining of his jacket, Anatoli evaded his companion and sought asylum. He renounced the surname Kuznetsov, declaring his former self to be 'a cowardly and conformist writer'. The smuggled photographic films of Babi Yar provided him with the text for the first uncensored edition of the book to come out in English, published in 1970 by Jonathan Cape. Anatoli took the decision to make visible the censorship of his work, revealing the fascinating editorial history of the book on the page - censored parts appear in bold and later additions are shown in square brackets. Anatoli died in 1979. He is buried in Highgate Cemetery.


Read it and weep... Nothing I have read about that barbaric time has been as affecting as this gripping, disturbing book - rightly hailed a masterpiece -- Tony Rennell * Daily Mail *
Babi Yar is one of the classic accounts of life under Nazi rule in occupied Europe and a depiction of man's inhumanity to man... [a] masterpiece -- Henry Marsh * New Statesman *
A masterpiece . . . Every bit the peer of the canonical works of witness [such as] Anne Frank's diary . . . Wiesel's Night . . . Solzhenityn's Gulag Archipelago -- George Packer * The Atlantic *
Absolutely stunning. A raw, devastating account of one of the greatest tragedies of WW2. Babi Yar provides a painfully intimate look at life during the Nazi occupation in Ukraine through the eyes of one resilient young boy. Told in poetic yet unflinching prose, this compelling book should be necessary reading for anyone looking to not only understand Ukrainian history, but humanity -- Erin Litteken
Moving and shaking in a way that links it with the works of Solzhenitsyn * Times Literary Supplement *

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