Word for Word

Word for Word
A Memoir of Literature, Politics and Survival in Soviet Russia
Lilianna Lungina
Price: £
  • Hardback
19 Dec 2014
  • Biography & Memoir
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A bestselling sensation in Russia, where it was called ‘the most significant cultural event of the year’ (Ogoniok), Word for Word is nothing less than the story of a nation’s literary conscience – the history of the twentieth century as seen through the eyes of a single person. A child of the 1920s, Lilianna Lungina was a Russian Jew born to privilege, spending her childhood in Germany, France and Palestine. But when her parents moved to the USSR when she was thirteen, Lungina became witness to many of the era’s greatest upheavals.

Exiled during World War II, dragged to KGB headquarters to report on her cosmopolitan friends, and subjected to her new country’s ruthless, systematic anti-Semitism, Lungina nonetheless carved out a remarkable career as a translator who introduced hundreds of thousands of Soviet readers to Knut Hamsun, August Strindberg and, most famously, Astrid Lindgren.

In the process, she found herself at the very centre of Soviet cultural life, meeting and befriending Pasternak, Brodsky, Solzhenitsyn and many other major figures of the era’s literature. Her extraordinary memoir – at once heartfelt and unsentimental – is an unparalleled tribute to a lost world.


‘This memoir has left the strongest impression on me of any book in the past several years' Boris Akunin, author of The White Queen

Lilianna Lungina

About Lilianna Lungina

Lilianna Lungina was a leading literary translator in the Soviet Union. She translated, among many authors, the works of Astrid Lindgren, August Strindberg, Henrik Ibsen, Henrich Boll, Knut Hamsun and Boris Vian. She was interviewed for a documentary film based on her life, which became one of the most popular television programmes in Russia’s history in 2009.