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 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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|Title of eBook: The Archivist's Story|
|Release Date: 06-19-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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|Parent title||The Archivist's Story|
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The Archivist's Story
It is a small matter that brings them together. A story, untitled, unsigned, and by all appearances incomplete, which the arresting officers in their haste have neglected to record in the evidence manifest. A year ago, when the Lubyanka thrummed with activity, when all of Moscow seemed to hold its breath at night and every morning brought a new consignment of confiscated manuscripts to Pavel's desk, such a discovery would have hardly warranted a second look, let alone this face-to-face meeting the archivist frankly dreads. Babel has confessed: One story will not change that, nor will it save him. Still, Kutyrev has insisted the matter be formally resolved, and since Pavel must now answer to the ambitious young lieutenant, the question of authorship is to be settled, if only for the record. Already an empty office upstairs has been reserved for the purpose. In due course the appointed morning comes. Just as the first heavy drops of rain are beginning to fall onto the dreary courtyard below, a guard raps once on the door. Babel enters.
"I was about to make tea," Pavel offers. On the bureau beside the window sit an electric samovar, a serving tray, tea glasses and spoons, a darkly tarnished tin, all left behind by the office's previous occupant, absent now. Behind the desk, where a row of pictures once hung, the plaster is noticeably lighter; only nails remain. "Would you like to sit down?"
After a moment, as if Pavel's voice has only now reached him, Babel nods, then sits. He is unshaven. A bruise is fading under his right eye, and a faint film, like dried salt, coats his lips. The wilted wings of his shirt collar lie crookedly across the lapels