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The fifth season- famine"" -- such is the central theme in this striking novel of modern Russia, during the Great Famine. Inevitably memory turns back to Little Man, What Now? though the differences are more striking than the likes. In The Five Seasons the author paints a stark and graphic portrait of a little people struggling for survival against the edicts of the Five Year Plan, the machinations of officials to bleed and cheat the peasants, the townspeople expecting to be fed by the farm areas, and finding instead the peasants battering on their doors for bread. The story centers around the people of a village and the neighboring kolchozes. A power in the community is Jamal, whose lip service offends her daughter, Ana, who feels a surging missionary spirit and who turns in people who try to keep a bit for themselves from the rapacious collectors. Then there are the Zubins:- the father is taken prisoner for complaining about the soup at the factory; Peter runs off from a work farm and joins the besprizoni- the wild boys; Xenia gets herself involved with the gang leader, Misha; the mother struggles to keep her spotless home against the depredations of the thieves. A grim picture- as a broken dam wastes the precious water and famine takes the land in its grip. One sees- rather than feels; there is little that rouses ones sympathy in the drawing of a people who are degraded, rather than uplifted by disaster. It is a portrait of a people being enslaved, and as such holds interest for the inquiring reader. The market- we feel- is limited.

Pub Date: Sept. 17th, 1954
Publisher: Viking