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Everything Flows by Vasily Grossman

Everything Flows (1970)

by Vasily Grossman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (27)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (29)
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
Ci sono casi in cui non serve leggere libri di storia per venire a conoscenza di ciò che ha avuto luogo in passato.
Basta trovare il libro giusto, l'autore giusto, quello che riesce ad impregnare i propri romanzi con verità storica, che tramite personaggi inventati riesce a dipingere fatti reali.
Grossman è uno di questi.
Niente giri di parole, niente indorature di pillole: uno stile schietto, persino crudo a volte, ma che obbliga il lettore ad affrontare grandi temi del passato e purtroppo anche del presente, come quello della colpa. Una questione che tutt'ora non ha una soluzione definitiva, che fa discutere, e che lui fa emergere non con monologhi filosofici, ma con fatti. ( )
  Shay17 | Mar 30, 2018 |
Vasily Grossman was working on ‘Everything Flows’ until his final days in the hospital, where he would die at just 58. Thinking that the KGB had destroyed any chance of his masterpiece ‘Life and Fate’ to ever be published, and with the constant threat of persecution hanging over him, he courageously continued to write honest, open accounts of life in the Soviet Union. The framework for ‘Everything Flows’ is that a man returns to Moscow after spending thirty years in a gulag. There are some touching scenes as he seeks out family members who have erased him from their minds, as well as familiar places which have changed, but the real meat of the novel is not in its plot, but in Grossman’s searing political and historical commentary. There are few authors who write with such intelligence and clarity of thought.

The strongest chapters are on the Holodomor, the genocide of roughly five million people in Ukraine in 1932-33, that does not have the awareness it should. Grossman describes how it happened, starting with the forced relocation of masses of people to the middle of nowhere, to fend for themselves in winter, and ending with the smaller quantities of grain produced shipped off to the cities, literally starving those who had grown it. He recognizes that “it was the same as the Nazis putting Jewish children in the gas chamber”, and the irony of this genocide, as well as Soviet anti-Semitism and prison camps, given how the USSR was a powerful ally in stopping Hitler, is not lost on him. The horrifying conditions are also described on a personal level, in highly poignant scenes. “Is it really true that no one will be held to account for it all? That it will all just be forgotten without a trace?” his character wonders. Grossman is trying his very best to ensure none of the outrages in his lifetime were forgotten.

And how important is it to remember and learn from history? Attempting to force nationalism, labeling those who disagree as "enemies of the people", labeling the intelligentsia as "cosmopolitan" in a derogatory way, and inciting the hatred of minorities - in the Soviet case, fake news about Jewish doctors killing their patients, and kulaks being parasites who burned bread and murdered children - does it sound alarmingly familiar to things going on in today’s politics in the U.S. and around the world?

Another excellent chapter describes the conditions in a women’s prison camp through the experiences of a woman named Masha, who had once “read Blok, who had studied literature, who…had written poetry of her own…could also sew, make borsch, bake torte napoleon, and who had breast-fed a child.” She’s forced into sleeping with a senior guard, tries to commit suicide, and eventually resigns herself to being treated “worse than a dog” until she eventually leaves the prison in a coffin.

If the book sounds grim, well, I suppose it is, and that’s undoubtedly one of the reasons Grossman is not more highly read, and probably why I didn’t give the book a slightly higher rating.

There is such irony that a communist movement for the people, for the peasants and workers, would lead to collectivization and famine, loss of all freedoms and prison camps – and that it would be worse for peasants than it had been under the Tsars, who at least often had a heart in times of hardships. “How can we call ourselves workers if we don’t have the right to strike,” says one character. And, as men are always going to look out for themselves, it also led to far-from-socialistic corruption: “It occurred to Ivan Grigoryevich that it was perhaps not so very surprising that incorruptible asceticism, the faith of the barefoot and fanatical apostles of the commune, had led in the end to fraudsters who were ready to do anything for the sake of a good dacha, for a car of their own, for some rubles to put away in their piggy bank.”

The later chapters work well as further history lessons. For example, how the revolutionaries of the 1910’s had gotten to middle age in the 1930’s, and were then shipped off to prison camps themselves, consumed by the State they had created; the socialist element now “a mere wrapping, a verbal husk, and empty shell.” The psychology of Lenin, often portrayed for his thoughtful personal moments (including, interestingly enough, re-reading ‘War and Peace’), but ruthless to political enemies and having a paradoxical contempt for freedom. And, how Russians have never had freedom – through Tsars, communism, and now, of course, long after Grossman’s time, Putin. Grossman recognizes freedom as more important than anything else, but wonders, “When will we see the day of a free, human, Russian soul? When will this day dawn? Or will it never dawn?”

However, the most profound messages are universal. One character draws a very dark conclusion, the pessimistic view that the fundamental law of humanity over history is not one of progress and freedom, but of violence. He puts it as a law of conservation of violence, that violence is eternal, changing its shape and form, but always present. “Sometimes it is directed against colored people, sometimes against writers and artists, but, all in all, the total quantity of violence on earth remains constant,” he says. It’s incredibly sobering.

On the other hand, in what seem to be the final pages Grossman ever wrote, his character has forgiveness of those who had interrogated him, denounced him, stolen from him, and beaten him – “all of them, in their weakness, coarseness, and spite, had done evil without wanting to.” It reveals an enlightenment and a humanity that is almost unimaginable. ( )
  gbill | Feb 10, 2018 |
Parte come un romanzo, si frantuma in racconti, termina come un saggio.
Cominciava bene, prometteva, ma non ha mantenuto fino in fondo, perché si ripete e perché espone idee che, per forza di cose, oggi sono già sentite e si potrebbero sentire persino durante un'edizione di Studio Aperto :-(
Personalmente poi mi ha SPIAZZATO la sua fede in Dio che, oltretutto, ha contribuito a rendere più stucchevoli i contenuti e la loro espressione.
Levi è più vicino alla mia sensibilità, credo. Forse tutto si spiega così. Forse. ( )
  downisthenewup | Aug 17, 2017 |
Tal y como dice la descripción, este libro sería el testamento de Grossman, que nos va contando las experiencias de Ivan Grigoryevich tras su liberación (o más bien, su salida del campo de prisioneros) Mientras cuenta cómo se encuentra con aquellos que lo denunciaron o le rechazaron o como busca su lugar, el autor inserta otros relatos sobre la represión y hace reflexiones sobre el pasado y futuro de la URSS, hasta el punto de que más que una novela se puede considerar un Fix-up. Aunque finalmente termina con una nota sobre el triunfo del espíritu humano frente a la adversidad (algo muy común en la literatura de los disidentes) en general el libro tiene un tono bastante pesimista, probablemente motivado por su situación personal (la prohibición de Vida y destino, y su paso a la condición de disidente) y por sus problemas de salud (el cancer también tiene su presencia en el texto)

No es un texto tan denso como Vida y destino, pero consigue hacer un repaso bastante completo a la URSS. ( )
  Alberto_MdH | Feb 8, 2017 |
Although the book is unbalanced, containing not just the story of Ivan but also historical analyses of Lenin and Stalin, it still deserves five stars, if only for the horribly realistic account of the great famine, which is sure to bring you nightmares. But there is a great deal more: empathy, psychological insight, sharp observations. ( )
  stef7sa | Jan 5, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Grossman, Vasilyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Adrian, EsaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Aslanyan, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bos, RonaldAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chandler, ElizabethTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chandler, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nitschke, AnneloreÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stoffel, AnneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The Khabarovsk express was due to arrive in Moscow by 9 A.M.
(Introduction) Vasily Grossman has become recognized not only as one of the great war novelists of all time but also as one of the first and most important of witnesses to the Shoah.
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Ivan Grigoryevich has been in the Gulag for thirty years. Released after Stalin's death, he finds that the years of terror have been imposed a collective moral slavery. He must struggle to find a place for himself in an unfamiliar world. But in a novel that seeks to take in the whole tragedy of Soviet history, Ivan's story is only one among many -- Grossman had too much to say, and too short a time to live, to concern himself with conventional novel-writing. Thus we also hear about Ivan's cousin, Nikolay, a scientist who never let his conscience interfere with his career, and Pinegin, the informer who had Ivan sent to the camps. Then comes a series of informers, each making excuses for their inexcusable deeds -- inexcusable and yet, they plead, in Stalinist Russia understandable, almost unavoidable. And at the core of the book, we find the story of Anna Sergeyevna, Ivan's lover, who tells about her involvement as an activist in the Terror famine of 1932-1933, which led to the deaths of three million Ukrainian peasants. -- Back cover.… (more)

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2 editions of this book were published by NYRB Classics.

Editions: 1590173287, 1590173899

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