THE DEAD FEEL NO PAIN - A Belarusian Novel of the Second World War by Vasil Bykau

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This book is one of few works by a Soviet writer that provides an honest portrayal of the life of a Soviet foot soldier on the Eastern front in World War II. Aside from the brilliant depiction of life at the front, it reveals how members of Stalin’s secret police transformed themselves into war heroes and began to resurrect Stalinism, following the War. Understandably, Bykau’s novel was res non grata and not published in its entirety until after the demise of the Soviet Union.


“It is a rare case, possibly, even a unique one, when a writer, out of the many who experienced to the fullest what the war was like, can comprehend its events with such incredible feeling and react so painfully to the potential consequences of human forgetfulness. Thus, at the end of the novel we find the hero peering into the display window of a book store, where among the many volumes filled with the emotions, passions, thoughts, and hopes of all times and peoples, he believes there simply must be a book there that can convey his own pain and memory, too.” – Prof. Mikhas’ Tychina, Belarusian Academy of Sciences

“There are a number of specific Russian words and some German phrases, these are explained in footnotes by Mozur. This is a very important piece of Soviet literature of [the] wartime experience, which by virtue of this translation, is made available to a wider English-speaking audience.” – Dr. Greg Simons, Uppsala University

“Brilliantly translated into English for the first time, Vasil' Bykau's The Dead Feel No Pain is that rare combination–a minute-by-minute account of war and a great work of literature. . . . Timeless and timely, a gripping read, Bykau's novel will now finally reach the worldwide audience it deserves. ” – Prof. Carol Apollonio, Duke University

“We’re very fortunate to have such an important new work appear in English.” – Prof. Daniel E. Rogers, University of South Alabama

“The narrator’s perspective–that of an eighteen year old Belarusian soldier–makes The Dead Feel No Pain of great interest to specialists concerned with the Great Fatherland War, Soviet nationalities, and the literature of war more generally. This book also fills a tremendous need in the classroom, as there are few novels in translation about the war from the Soviet perspective.” – Prof. Mara Kozelsky, University of South Alabama

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