The Lonely Years, a collection of private correspondence, is essential to an understanding of Isaac Babel’s life and works. Babel rose to fame in 1920s Russia for such books as Red Cavalry and Odessa Stories. But as Stalin’s regime grew repressive, he found it increasingly difficult to write or publish. He was finally arrested in 1939, never to be heard from again. Alternately tender and biting, and accompanied by nine stories from the “lonely years,” these letters show an individual laboring against all odds to remain true to his craft and ideals. This edition contains a new introduction, based on previously unreleased information from the KGB files.
In what probably qualifies as both an accomplishment and a shortcoming, the movie makes you want to read Babel’s writing instead. [In reference to the new film Finding Babel.]
—The New York Times
I think that’s why each fresh wave of students that’s introduced to Babel is shocked by it. They’ve never read anything like it in their lives. They’re thrown off balance, and then eventually they become obsessed with Babel.
—Val Vinokur, Professor at the New School and author of The Essential Fictions of Isaac Babel
Babel is one of the literary masters of our century.
—Irving Howe, The New Republic