Life And Fate, Anna's Letter

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Janet Suzman stars in Vasily Grossman's epic tale of family and war in Soviet Russia.

Life and Fate: Anna's Letter

By Vasily Grossman

Viktor's mother, Anna, writes him a farewell letter in September 1941.

As a Jew in Berdichev, in the Ukraine now occupied by the Nazis, she has been forced into a ghetto and understands what will come next.

The letter somehow finds its way to Viktor and is to be a source of strength for him in days to come.

Dramatised for radio by Mike Walker

Anna Semyonovna - Janet Suzman

Original music by John Hardy with Rob Whitehead

Performed by Oliver Wilson-Dickson, Tom Jackson, Stacey Blythe and Max Pownall

Translated by Robert Chandler

Directed and Produced by Alison Hindell

Kenneth Branagh, Janet Suzman, David Tennant, Greta Scacchi and Harriet Walter star in this eight hour dramatisation of Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman.

This epic saga takes over every drama strand on Radio 4 this week.

Set against the ferocious Battle of Stalingrad, Life and Fate is a sweeping historical tale that charts the fate of both a nation and a family in the turmoil of war and is increasingly hailed as the most important Russian novel of the 20th century.

Its comparison of Stalinism with Nazism was considered by Soviet authorities to be so dangerous that the manuscript itself was arrested and Grossman was told that it would not be published for at least 200 years.

He died in 1964, never knowing that his book would be smuggled to the West and eventually published in 1980.