The Archivist's Story

The Archivist s Story Moscow In the recesses of the infamous Lubyanka prison a young archivist is sent to authenticate an unsigned story confiscated from one of the many political prisoners there The writer is Isaac

  • Title: The Archivist's Story
  • Author: Travis Holland
  • ISBN: 9780385339957
  • Page: 443
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Moscow, 1939 In the recesses of the infamous Lubyanka prison, a young archivist is sent to authenticate an unsigned story confiscated from one of the many political prisoners there The writer is Isaac Babel The great author of Red Cavalry is spending his last days forbidden to write, his final manuscripts consigned to the archivist, Pavel Dubrov, who will ultimately beMoscow, 1939 In the recesses of the infamous Lubyanka prison, a young archivist is sent to authenticate an unsigned story confiscated from one of the many political prisoners there The writer is Isaac Babel The great author of Red Cavalry is spending his last days forbidden to write, his final manuscripts consigned to the archivist, Pavel Dubrov, who will ultimately be charged with destroying them The emotional jolt of meeting Babel face to face leads to a reckless decision he will save the last stories of the author he reveres, whatever the cost.From the margins of history, Travis Holland has woven a tale of the greatest power Pavel s private act of courage in the face of a vast bureaucracy of evil invigorates a life that had lost its meaning, even as it guarantees his almost certain undoing A story of suspense, courage, and unexpected avenues of grace, The Archivist s Story is ultimately an enduring tribute to the written word.From the Hardcover edition.
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      Published :2019-09-06T06:39:21+00:00

    648 Comment

    • Keith says:

      In this slim volume author Holland manages to delineate the terror that was at the heart of Soviet tyranny. A disgraced teacher gets a job as "archivist" at the notorious Lubyanka prison in Moscow. It is just before the start of the Second World War and Stalin's show trials with their subsequent executions and exile are continuing. The grand irony of the title is, of course, that he is not an archivist but a participant in the destruction of thousands of letters, diaries, short stories and novel [...]

    • Chana says:

      Set in Stalinist Russia, in Moscow. It was sad and terrifying. We can all Google how many people were killed during the Stalin years, and it is estimated to be as high as a staggering 60 million, but this quiet book explores the juxtaposition between people trying to live normal lives and the constant fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. Women still became pregnant, children played, people got sick and needed medical care, people needed to eat, work and live. But the fear was pervasive and w [...]

    • steffie says:

      This book caught my attention at the library, because it had the word archivist in the title. When I read inside the flap that it took place in Stalinist-regime Russia, it was a done deal.I brought it home and devoured it, forcing myself to put it aside every now and then so I could savor it. I'm really bad at savoring, though, so I finished it in a day. This is one of those books that captures your attention quickly and stays with you when you put it down to eat dinner, see "3: 10 to Yuma," get [...]

    • Faith says:

      Pavel Dubrov is a former teacher now working for the Soviet bureaucracy during the Stalin years. He is responsible for archiving and, tragically, burning works of literature. We meet him as he is querying Isaac Babel about a short story that was informally ascribed to him. Pavel's life quickly unravels through the course of the book. His wife boarded a train eight months ago; the train derailed, and her body has not yet been released to him. His best friend is being very outspoken in public foru [...]

    • Sarah Black says:

      this was beautiful and passionate in that ultra-quiet way of some extraordinary novels. I wouldn't have been surprised if the book burst into flames in my hands. Not a single mis-step, not a single line that didn't read true, and the ending- !! I can hardly speak. I tucked the book under my pillow last night when I finished reading it, so I could feel close to it just a bit longer. Reading is really the most intimate contact between strangers, isn't it?The story is set in Stain-era Russia, and a [...]

    • Dana Burda says:

      Romanul scris de scriitorul american Travis Holland a aparut la editura RAO cu titlul " Povestea arhivarului" in anul 2010 fiind tradus in limba romana de traducatorul Mihai Popescu. Travis Holland este un scriitor american tanar a carui lucrare de debut a fost chiar acest roman " The Archivist 's Story" publicat in anul 2007 si care s-a bucurat imediat de un deosebit succes fiind nominalizat la International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Autorul a primit de doua ori Hopwood Award. Actiunea roman [...]

    • Elisabeth says:

      Found it by using Stalin and fiction as a keyword (or some such broad netting). Turns out to be a beautiful story about a teacher caught in his love of literature and family at a time --Stalinist Russia--when every love can easily lead to imprisonment and death. He has already at the very beginning of the book been demoted to the archives of Lubyanka where he gets to burn works deemed as subversive. Isaac Babel,Russian literature, his mother ailing brain, his wife, the neighbour's dog, his fathe [...]

    • Helen says:

      This short, beautifully written novel read as though it was written by a Russian several decades ago. It has the language and the haunting descriptions that I would associate with that era. Surprisingly, it was written only a few years ago by an American author. Truly excellent story of an archivist working in Lubyanka prison, Moscow under Stalin at the beginning of WWII. He has the heart breaking task of incinerating wonderful irreplaceable literature in a climate of fear and corruption. Excell [...]

    • Bachyboy says:

      Set in the late 1930's Soviet Union, this is a heartbreaking story with sadness layered upon sadness. Such a great story; tension exists from the beginning of the book and never leaves. Pavel Dubrov works in the Moscow Lubyanka prison making precious manuscripts disappear. This book chronicles the vast bureaucracy of evil that existed at that time. Fantastic read.

    • Богиня Книдска says:

      Определено на неруснаци трябва да им се забрани да пишат за руснаци, представяйки се за руснаци. Редови руски граждани пият уиски, редовно се возят на такси, имат телефон в квартирите си, използват луксозни сапуни и парфюм, свирят американски рагтайм Да, да. И това през 1939г.

    • Bettie☯ says:

      /review/show

    • mike says:

      Haunting, lovely, a terrific debut.

    • Claudia Moscovici says:

      The Stalinist purges assumed monstrous proportions with an opportunity: Sergei Kirov’s assassination. Eugenia Ginsburg begins her memoir about her arrest in 1937 and experience in labor camps, Journey into the Whirlwind (Mariner Books, 2002), by stating as much: “That year, 1937, really began on December 1, 1934,” the day when Kirov, the head of the Communist party organization in Leningrad, was murdered. This assassination, which some suspect was facilitated by the NKVD (the People’s Co [...]

    • Laura Raines says:

      Haunting and beautifully written. It's set in 1939 Russia under Stalin, but could be anywhere under a dictatorial power, anywhere where an oppressive system gets to decide what we think, who can write and who should live or die. This one will stay with me for a long time.

    • Michelle says:

      Really enjoyed this. Atmospheric, heart wrenching, and thoughtful.

    • Benjamin says:

      The book is set in the midst of Stalin’s massive intelligentsia purges. The protagonist, Pavel works in the archives of Lubyanka prison, where he catalogues and then burns the works of Russia’s unsanctioned writers. Every time he consigns an unread, handwritten manuscript to the incinerator, Pavel, a former professor of Russian lit, feels a part of himself disappear. Only a dazed inertia gets him through his day: he lost his professorial post a little over a year ago after he ratted out an i [...]

    • Moloch says:

      Ho deciso di non abbandonare questo periodo storico, anni '30-'40, che ha caratterizzato questo inizio d'anno, ma dalla Germania nazista e dalla Francia occupata ci spostiamo nell'Unione Sovietica dell'epoca delle "purghe" staliniane.Chiaramente non posso che guardare con affetto a un libro che si intitola Storia di un archivista (può anzi essere anche stato proprio il motivo per cui, anni fa, l'ho comprato): libri, biblioteche e bibliotecari sono presenze abbastanza usuali nei romanzi, molto m [...]

    • Meaghan says:

      "I mean, people talk about the burden of memory, but what about how vulnerable our memories are? How insubstantial." (p. 215)That pretty much sums up the theme of Travis Holland's novel The Archivist's Story. The novel is about Pavel, an archivist working at the Lubyanka prison in Soviet Russia in 1939. A former teacher of literature, Pavel has come to work at Lubyanka after being dismissed from his teaching position for helping to denounce a colleague. He is not a true believer in the communist [...]

    • Kristen says:

      The story weaves a tale of a former literature teacher turned archivist in 1930's Moscow. His task is to destroy the literary work of political prisoners. This book has been showing up on lots of Best of 2007 lists. As I read it, I was confused as to why. First, let me say it was well-written from a technical sense. Good sound plot. Interesting lead character. A build in the story. But overall I was let down. I think there were a few things that just didn't sit well with me. First, it was writte [...]

    • Victor says:

      Good characterisation of what it must have felt to live in that sombre era. My parents having grown up in that world passed a diet of those feelings to me across my childhood dinner table. There are many ironies in this story, and at many levels. For example, the irony of former school teachers being forced to carry out destructions of authors whose works they once loved, admired, and taught; coupled with the further irony of the archivist's perspective (a function whose job is to preserve for p [...]

    • Brenna says:

      This book starts right before Germany and Russia became allies, on the brink of WWII, and follows a few months in the life of an archivist who is tasked with systematically destroying original manuscripts of novels, poems, essays, and short stories of writers who have been condemned by Stalin's regime. He decides to save an unpublished short story by one of his favorite authors, a decision that could mean his death if it is discovered. This act of quiet rebellion opens the door for him to rebel [...]

    • Olivia says:

      I had forgotten I'd read this until I saw it again at the library today. Now, that probably doesn't sound good, but I do that rather frequently. It isn't really a statement about the book. However, I very quickly remembered what it was about simply from the cover, so that should say something.For someone like myself who read Fahrenheit 451 at a seminal point in maturation, books about the sacred nature of text and author's works always entice me. This is sort of the Russian version of Bradbury's [...]

    • Moray Barclay says:

      This novel, set in pre-war Russia, has been compared to Orwell’s 1984 with its constant air of despair and fleeting moments of escape and humanity. I think it even trumps 1984 in one respect: the characters. There are several different individuals you can touch and feel: flawed Pavel, his cynical and outspoken friend Semyon, his boss Kutyrev who lacks any self-awareness, his naïve friend Victor and his all-too-aware two-up boss Radlov. Someone for everyone there. The whole atmosphere is summe [...]

    • Barbara says:

      Un libro notevole, una scrittura asciutta e insieme evocativa, mi ha fatto venire in mente l'odore della neve. Ma non della neve bianca, pulita, purificatrice, piuttosto della neve sporca, ridotta a fanghiglia da piedi distratti sotto un cielo cupo, che nasconde appena la miseria e lo squallore di ogni dittatura.E' un libro coraggioso, che cerca di descrivere cosa vuol dire vivere rinnegando se stessi e rinunciando a tutto quello in cui si crede, riuscendo ciò nonostante a compiere un gesto pic [...]

    • Katie Grainger says:

      This was probably one of the best novels I have read for a while. It was undoubtedly a sad tale, the story centres around Pavel an ex teacher who has found himself working in an archive of forbidden writers. As the story moves through the great writers of Pavel's time are being rounded up and imprisoned, and it is Pavel who archives their works. Slowly his soul is crushed by the new regime of Stalinist Russia as he slowly concludes that soon he will be next on the list. This is a very well writt [...]

    • Ubik 2.0 says:

      Obiettivo noia! La Storia di un'Archivista, benchè uscito nel 2007, sembra un libro (minore) di oltre mezzo secolo fa con un'atmosfera che talora ricorda (ma con ben altra forza!) le tematiche del film "Le vite degli altri", con l'Unione Sovietica Stalinista al posto della DDR di Honecker.A differenza del bel film tedesco, qui però non c'è quasi nessun tentativo di uscire dai luoghi comuni del genere: la schedatura, la paura di controllati/controllori, la sparizione di chi si è lasciato anda [...]

    • Janet says:

      A small exquisite book about the purge year 1939 in Stalin's Russia, an archivist in the Lubianka is confronted with a beaten Babel, and realizes he has Babel's last story in his hands. The book concerns the Archivist's growing realization that one cannot hide in the belly of the beast, that one is part of the beast. The kindness of strangers, and their treachery, and one's own. Wonderful, subtle insights about the human condition that I found myself writing into my journal. For instance, the pr [...]

    • Lilly says:

      i found this book on a trip to City Lights bookstore in SF. the rebellious tone of the plot intrigued me, so i snapped up a copy (despite having less than zero time to read). i wasn't disappointed. although written by a contemporary author (who i later realized i'd met on a writers' conference panel), the sensitivity and language echoed some of the most beautiful foreign literature i've read some ways this is the modern man's Farenheit 451. We forget that literature hasn't always been as free as [...]

    • Maurice J says:

      I loved this book. It is the story of a Stalin-era librarian whose job was to destroy manuscripts of people convicted of crimes against the state. The librarian's crisis comes when he discovers an unpublished Isaac Babel manuscript that exists nowhere else. (If I remember correctly.)Holland's depiction of the daily life and work of the librarian are excellent. He is anything but a a cardboard figure or apparatchik by the end. The protagonist's struggle over what to do--he's supposed to destroy t [...]

    • Marvin says:

      This is an impressive effort about a literature teacher on the eve of WWII in Stalinist Russia who's been removed from his teaching job & assigned to manage the files--book, article, short story, & poetry manuscripts--at a prison where writers arrested under the regime are being held. The archivist struggles to retain a shred of humanity as he is compelled to destroy the nation's literary legacy, & his personal past is gradually undermined & destroyed as well. It's pretty grim, b [...]

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