Grossman began his writing career as a journalist, including several years as a correspondent for the Soviet military paper. He spent much World War II on the frontlines of Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union. The events he witnessed during those years, particularly the battle of Stalingrad, form the background against which much of the story of Life and Fate is told.
After submitting the manuscript for publication, Grossman's apartment was raided by the KGB, and all traces of the novel, including typewriter ribbons, were confiscated. Despite Grossmans pleas that the novel be granted freedom, the novel remained unpublished in the hands of the Soviet government for years. Eventually, one of Grossman's friends and fellow writer, was able to obtain a copy of the novel and smuggle it out of the country. Written in 1958, the novel was not published until 1980 - fourteen years after Grossman's death.
The novel is considered by many to be comparable in quality and importance to Tolstoy's War and Peace, telling the story of Russia's fight to expel the Nazis in much the same way Tolstoy wrote of Russia's fight to expel the French. Like War and Peace, Grossman's story is grand in scale and epic in scope. It clocks in at about 900 pages, depending on the edition, which is why this meeting is being posted so early. Hopefully, it will provide people with ample time to finish.