The Archivist’s Story: A Novel

Pavel Dubrov’s many problems include his own conscience. He aided spoiled sons of the Communist Party elite in denouncing a fellow teacher at an academy where he taught Russian literature. By the summer of 1939, Dubrov is working at the archive where the secret police store the “evidence” to be used against writers during Stalin’s purges. Good stories, bad stories, files thick with novels and thin with poems; Dubrov catalogues everything. When no longer needed, he consigns the files to an incinerator in the building’s basement. But Dubrov’s decision to “save” an unpublished story by a prisoner named Isaac Babel unleashes a close examination of his own conscience and raises all sorts of questions about individual responsibility in a police state. Shall we save ourselves or save the world?