A passionate literary biography of the Belarusan anti-war and dissident writer who is universally acknowledged as the conscience of his nation.
The Soviet Union banned many of Vasil Bykau's novels, which often focus on the agonizing moral dilemmas faced by young officers during the horrors of war. Considered the best modern Belarusan writer and the last Eastern European literary dissident, Bykau (1924-2003) is referred to as the "conscience of a nation" for leading an intellectual crusade against Lukasenka's totalitarian regime. In exile from Belarus for several years, he was given refuge by Vaclav Havel in Czechoslovakia. He has been nominated for the Nobel Prize by Havel, Czeslaw Milosz, and PEN.
In the first English biography of his life and work, Zina Gimpelevich describes the conditions under which Bykau lived in the former USSR and provides a literary and political history of Belarus from 1918-2003. Based on interviews that she conducted with Bykau, she illuminates his life of as an artist and a defender of human rights. She also provides literary criticism of Bykau's work, including The Ordeal and Pack of Wolves, and discusses the psychological realism of his early novels, and his interest in existentialism.