Review of 'The Complete Works of Isaac Babel', ed. Nathalie Babel, Picador £30.00
As one of the greatest writers of the early Soviet period in Russia, the first single volume edition of the works of Isaac Babel is an event. In the epoch of war and revolution Babel is an author of the first rank.
Born in the busy Russian port of Odessa on the Black Sea in 1894, Babel grew up in a shtetl, a Jewish village. The son of a small businessman of mixed fortunes, he grew up amid cultural riches and material poverty, assailed by racism from all sides.