Redemption by Friedrich Gorenstein and translated by Andrew Bromfield is a novel of life after the WWII in the soviet Union. Gorenstein was born in Kiev, was a Soviet Jewish writer and screenwriter who collaborated with Andrei Tarkovsky on Solaris (1972), among other works. His father was arrested during Stalin’s purges and later shot. Unable to publish in the Soviet Union, Gorenstein emigrated to Berlin, where he lived until his death. Bromfield is an acclaimed translator of contemporary Russian writers such as Victor Pelevin and Boris Akunin. He has also translated Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace.
This is a book where the introduction is important to understanding the the story. Granted, many people know about the Famine in 1946, but there is more going on the book. There play on Stalin’s name and the Soviet denial or rather ignorance of the holocaust. The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact commonly called the Nazi-Soviet Pact aligned the Soviets with the and their Nazi’s death camps. The Soviet government chose to ignore the reality of their actions. Also, the pact caused the Soviet Union to be caught off guard for the German invasion. The advancing Germans showed no mercy to Soviet Jews in their path.
Sashenka is not a very likable character. She is selfish and vengeful (against her mother). The war most certainly took a toll on her but she lets her vanity guide her. Her father was killed in the war and she mentions that often seemingly more for others to feel sorry for her loss. She shows no loyalty to the Soviet government but only to herself. So, it is not a story by a misguided patriot. The war is over and things are tough for everyone and now there is grisly work to be done. An interesting book that for obvious reasons was not published in the Soviet Union even after Khrushchev denounced Stalin. A well written and haunting book that reflects the feelings in Soviet Union after the war and life under Stalin’s rule.