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The Archivist's Story

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Pavel Dubrov, the melancholy hero of Travis Holland’s promising debut The Archivist’s Story, works in 1939 as an ”archivist” at Moscow’s notorious Lubyanka prison, where his job consists primarily of destroying the manuscripts of writers imprisoned by Stalin for crimes against the state. Pavel’s daily soul-wounding is worsened since his wife has just died in a train wreck and his mother is suffering from what may be dementia. When Pavel stumbles across a manuscript by a new prisoner — the great Isaac Babel — he commits the bravest act of his life by hiding the papers rather than incinerating them. Holland’s story of a broken man’s decision to put his life on the line for literature is both restrained and bleakly profound. B