Books: Breaking Through in Fiction

New writers shatter the conventions of the past

"You can cover the whole world with asphalt, but a few blades of green grass will always break through," concluded Soviet Novelist Ilya Ehrenburg, as the Stalin era faded. And still they come: surprising new writers who have shattered the deadening conventions of the past. They have recoiled from the novel, viewing it as prefabricated Stalinist architecture. The genre of choice is the short story or novella. Many writers have managed gradually to escape from Socialist Realism, with its obligatory jargon and hortatory themes, traveling...

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