Anatoly Naumovich Rybakov (January 14 1911 – December 23, 1998) was a Soviet and Russian writer, the author of the anti-Stalinist Children of the Arbat tetralogy, novel Heavy Sand, and many popular children books including Adventures of Krosh, Dirk, Bronze Bird, etc. One of the last of his works was his memoir The Novel of Memoirs (Роман-Воспоминание) telling about all the different people (from Stalin and Yeltsin, to Okudzhava and Tendryakov) he met during his long life. Writer Maria Rybakova is his granddaughter.
Rybakov was born in the city of Chernigov, Russian Empire (now Chernihiv, Ukraine) in a Jewish family. In 1934 he was arrested by the NKVD and exiled to Siberia for three years. After the end of his exile, he worked as a transport worker. During World War II, he was a tank commander.
In 1948, he wrote the popular children's book Dirk (Кортик). In 1950, he published the novel Drivers (Водители), then in 1979, the novel Heavy Sand (Тяжёлый Песок) about the fate of a Jewish family under Nazi occupation.
Heavy Sand is an epic story of four generations of a Jewish family living in Communist Russia and its life in a ghetto during the Nazi occupation, culminating in their participation in a ghetto uprising. Though the story of the ghetto uprising is fictional, some details of it seem to be based on the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto. It is believed that the novel is based on numerous stories collected by Rybakov from people who survived Nazi occupation of Ukraine. This story was dubbed the "first Russian Holocaust novel" by one of the Western newspapers of the time. The book became a television series in 2008...
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