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 Anatoli Rybakov

Born:   1 January 1911
Deceased:   23 December 1998



More than one generation of readers became absorbed in books by Anatoli Rybakov (1911-1998). In Russian literature Rybakov stands out as one of the first courageous writers who dared to tread on forbidden ground and unfold the truth about this countrys hard times. His major books, Children of the Arbat and The Heavy Sand, are semi-autobiographical; guided by his own life experience the author created captivating and discerning works with a focus on most important things about human nature. Almost all his books have been screened.

Anatoli Naumovich Rybakov (real surname is Aronov) was born on January 1, 1911, in the city of Chernigov into a Jewish family. From 1919 he lived with his family in Moscow.

Anatoli Rybakov In November 1933, while a student of Transport Institute, Rybakov was arrested and condemned to three years of exile for counterrevolutionary agitation and propaganda. After the exile he was devoid of the right to live in big cities where special passport regime was established and had to roam around the country and take jobs that did not require filling in forms.

In 1941 Anatoli managed to get into the army and fought with Germans, from Moscow to Berlin, and was awarded with lots of honours and medals. A private soldier at the beginning he became a major by the end of the war. In 1946 he got demobilized and finally returned back home, to Moscow.

Anatoli Rybakov won acclaim with his very first works: his adventure stories for young readers enticed many generations of kids with their captivating plots, based on discovering a mystery, and elevated romantic spirit combined with true to life details, kind humour, and lyricism. In Kortik (The Dirk) the story is set during the Civil war and NEP (New Economic Policy) in Moscow, in the Arbat Street, the latter being Rybakovs favorite setting. Its sequel is no less interesting story Bronzovaya Ptitsa (The Bronze Bird) (1956). Lively narration, psychological veracity, and wit inherent in the above mentioned works manifest themselves also in the Adventures of Krosh (1960) and Vacations of Krosh (1966) told as if by a teenager.

Anatoli Rybakov Rybakovs first adult novel Voditeli (Drivers) (1950) is dedicated to people very well known to the author by his former profession of a motorist engineer. The book belongs to the paragons of work prose; it is remarkable for its subtle characterization and veritable depiction of the workaday life at a motor depot in a provincial town.

In the novel Leto in Sosniki (Summer in Sosniki) (1964) Rybakov featured life of a big plant through the prism of a psychological conflict between an honest poor wretch and a narrow-minded dogmatist, which reflected the true explosive contradiction of the Stagnation period.

Book cover The novel Heavy Sand (1978) that hardly carved its way to the Soviet publication because of its unwonted subject matter ultimately brought huge popularity to Rybakov. The book tells about life of a Jewish family in one of the multinational towns of Western Ukraine of the 19101940s, about the all-surmounting love, about the Holocaust tragedy and about the courage of the Resistance. This work is a culmination of the authors creation: it blends all the colours of his palette, together with depth of philosophy and historical analyses, as well as mystical symbolism.

Anatoli Rybakov The novel Children of the Arbat written as early as the 1960s and published only in 1987 shed light upon the young generation of the 1930s, the time of heavy tolls and tragedies. The work recalling the destinies of that generation aimed at revealing the mechanism of totalitarian power, and comprehending the phenomenon of Stalinism. The writers other notable works include the story Neizvestny Soldat (Unknown Soldier) (1970) and the autobiography Roman-Vospominania (Memoir Novel) (1997).

Rybakov was a laureate of the USSR and RSFSR state awards. His books have been published in 52 countries, with the overall edition exceeding 20 million copies.

Anatoli Rybakov died in New York on December 23, 1998, and was buried in Moscow.


Vera Ivanova and Mikhail Manykin


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