The June 2019 issue of Commentary magazine has a great essay by Joseph Epstein on "The Achievement of Vasily Grossman: Was he the greatest writer of the past century?"
"In a conversation sometime in the mid-1970s, Saul Bellow remarked to me on the crucial difference between European and American writers of his generation. Writers in Europe have looked the devil in the eye, he said, while in America writers have to make do with irony, comedy, and anything else that comes to mind. The devil, of course, was totalitarianism, in particular fascism and Communism, which promised its adherents heaven and brought them unmitigated hell."
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