Few writers convey the horrors of war and oppression more unflinchingly than Vasily Grossman. Here he describes a town flattened and deserted. As we watch indiscriminate shelling of towns and villages on our news screens, this simile, including that harsh ‘gaily’ shining sun, is painfully current.
The streets were silent, severe, and deserted – now no more substantial than sketches. The quiet after each shell burst was terrifying. And from high in a cloudless sky the sun shone gaily down on a town that was like a spread-eagled corpse.
Source: Vasily Grossman, ‘In the Town of Berdichev’, The Road: Stories, Journalism, and Essays, trans. Robert and Elizabeth Chandler with Olga Mukovnikova, afterword