Excerpt from Stalin's Children by Owen Matthews, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Stalin's Children

Three Generations of Love, War, and Survival

by Owen Matthews

Stalin's Children
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2008, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2009, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Even after years in Moscow, I can never quite shake the feeling of being in a weird cat's cradle of conflicting ages. Even the city's thrusting modernity is still laced with quaintly historic touches: soldiers in jackboots and breeches; timeless babushkas in headscarves; ragged, bearded beggars straight out of Dostoyevsky; obligatory coat checks and rotary phones; fur hats; drivers and maids; bread with lard; abacuses instead of cash registers; inky newspapers; the smell of wood smoke and outdoor toilets in the suburbs. Some rhythms of life seem absolutely unchanged from my fathers' day, my grandfather's day even.

There have been a few times during my stay in Russia when I think I have caught glimpses of the nightmare world my grandfather entered in July 1937. A police station in Moscow where I was taken after being beaten up by some drunken Tatars one night in 1996, which was impregnated with the eternal Russian prison odour of sweat, piss and despair. The investigator's office where I watched for hours as the detective's crawling pen painstakingly took down details of my statement, denting the cheap official paper under harsh, institutional lamplight. And then a few days later, the dingy hall where I was taken to confront my assailants, they weeping in manacles as I sat high on a dais with the investigator in front of their swelling criminal file. A journalistic visit to Butirskaya prison, where heat and humidity were so intense that it was hard to inhale and the prisoners had empty, sunken eyes. I tried to talk to a couple of them, briefly, but it was so uncomfortable speaking to a stranger in such unnatural proximity, chest to chest, I found I had nothing to say. Neither then nor later, could I humanize the prisoners or relate to them as people. They had passed through the looking-glass into another reality; they had been transformed into something less than human, closer to the casual brutality of a herd of animals. Their faces were the faces of men whose whole lives had imploded into the space of a few feet of the fetid room they inhabited. They stared at me as I pushed past from a distance of six inches, but when I looked into their eyes I knew they were looking at me from a distance I could never, ever cross. For a few hours, I imagine that I saw and smelt and touched the very Russian underworld of crime and punishment which swallowed my grandfather two generations before. It was enough, perhaps, to start picturing what it was like, at least physically. What it was like in his head and heart is a place I never wish to visit.

Excerpt from Stalin's Children: Three Generations of Love and War by Owen Matthews, published by Walker & Company.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Barkskins
    Barkskins
    by Annie Proulx
    Barkskins, by Annie Proulx, is not a book to read quickly. After a month of slow reading, I ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Marriage of Opposites
    by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman's latest work, The Marriage of Opposites, is a historical fiction novel focusing on ...
  • Book Jacket: Miss Jane
    Miss Jane
    by Brad Watson
    National Book Award Finalist Brad Watson returns with an intimate novel about one woman's journey to...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Falling
    by Jane Green

    "Readers who enjoy a love story with heart will adore this tale of homecoming and transformation." - LJ

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Since She Went Away
    by David Bell

    A chilling novel of guilt, regret, and a past which refuses to die...

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Sweet Caress
by William Boyd

William Boyd's Sweet Caress captures an entire lifetime unforgettably within its pages. It captivates.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!