Bykov, Vasily Vladimirovich 1924-2003

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BYKOV, Vasily Vladimirovich 1924-2003

(Vasilii Uladzimiravich Bykau, Vasil Bykaw)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born June 19, 1924, in Charaposchina, Vitebsk Oblast, USSR (now Bychki, Belarus); died of stomach cancer June 22, 2003, in Minsk, Belarus. Author. Bykov was a politically controversial and popular author in the former Soviet Union whose novels often portray the grim realities of soldiers' lives during World War II. He himself served in the Soviet Army, and after he left the service he worked as a freelance writer. Because his honest depictions of the sometimes unheroic but very human struggles of soldiers and citizens during World War II ran contrary to the grandiose fiction approved by the State, Bykov's works were censored in his homeland. His books often went unpublished for years after they were completed, and even then long passages were stricken out by government censors. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the formation of politically independent Belarus in 1991, Bykov, who was a member of the Belarus Democratic Movement, became infamous for criticizing the new government. So critical was he of president Aleksandr Lukashenko that he was ultimately forced into exile in 1998. He lived in Finland, Germany, and the Czech Republic during the next few years, writing novels that predicted a grim future for his homeland. Honored with the Kolas Literature Prize in 1964, the Lenin Prize in 1986, and the Order of the Red Star, Bykov's published works include The Cry of the Cranes (1960), The Dead Feel No Pain (1966), the play When You Want to Live (1974), The Mark of Doom (1982), The Sandpit (1986), In the Mist (1987), The Round-up (1988), and the six-volume Collected Works (1992-94). After being diagnosed with cancer, Bykov returned to his homeland for surgery and died while in intensive care. His memoir, The Long Road Home, had been published a short while before he passed away.



Encyclopedia of World Literature in the Twentieth Century, third edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.


Chicago Tribune, June 24, 2003, section 1, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, July 15, 2003, p. B13.

New York Times, July 13, 2003, p. A18.

Times (London, England), June 30, 2003.