Books: Stethoscope Report

THE TRAIN (281 pp.)—Vera Panova—Knopf ($3).

One of the 1946 Stalin Prizes went to a 41-year-old Russian newspaper woman named Vera Fedorovna Panova for her first novel, a story of a Red army hospital train in World War II. Published in the U.S., The Train proves to be exceptional in recent Soviet fiction for sticking to its own tracks, with no side excursions into politics and only the rarest toots of the propaganda whistle.

Author Panova's chief concern is with the inner life of the doctors, nurses and patients aboard. Her narrative jumps about from character to character, pausing to listen to the...

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