Trifonov, Yuri Valentinovich. Born on 28 August 1925. His father was a professional
revolutionary, who took part in the uprising in Rostov, the formation of the Red Guard in Petrograd in 1917, the
Civil War, etc., etc. In 1937, he was arrested and repressed. In 1938, his wife suffered the same fate. (They were rehabilitated in 1955.)
As a son of an enemy of the people, Yuri Trifonov was denied access to higher education for a time and went to work in an aviation factory. After garnering sufficient worker's credentials, however, he eventually won admission to the Gorky Institute of Literature, from which he graduated in 1949.
His first work of note was the short novel Studenty ("Students") (1950).
In the spring of 1952, Trifonov was sent off to Karakumy, the site of the construction of the Main Turkmen Canal. In 1959, Trifonov published Pod Solntsem ("Under the Sun"), a series of stories and sketches of Turkmenestan. This was followed in 1962 by the novel Utoleniye Zhazhdy ("Slaking Thirst")
Between 1966 and 1969, Trifonov published numerous short stories, including Vera i Zoika ("Vera and Zoika") and V gribnuiu osen'.
The first of Trifonov's "city novels", Obmen ("The Exchange") appeared in 1969. This was followed by Predvaritelniye itogi ("Preliminary Conclusions") and Dolgoye Proshchenie ("The Long Good-Bye").
In the novel Another Life (Drugaya Zhizn'), a woman in her early forties is suddenly widowed, and the death transforms her past. She doesn't know if her life has been good or not, happy or unhappy. But now that the past has turned to pain, there is an imperative to know the truth. The 1973 work Impatience (Neterpeniye) is the story of Andrei Zhelyabov, one of the leaders of the People's Will movement in the late 1800s.
The 1976 novel House on the Embankment (Don na naberezhnoi)revolves around life in a famous Moscow apartment house which served as the home of many of the Soviet elite, and where the author himself lived as a boy. Spanning four decades, the novel spends much time describing the life of the children in the building. Contrast is made between the fantastic privilege of some familes and the fear other familes had of that privilege. Later, in the post-war years, a graduate student is faced with the choice of what to do when a trusted professor (who's also his future father-in-law) comes under unjust ideological attack and threat of purge. The student chooses lack of principle as his principle, thereby abandoning his future bride without so much as a good-bye and assuring a comfortable career for himself, including a dacha and a trip to Paris in the 1970s.
Old Man (Starik, 1978) tells of an old man who receives a letter from a woman he knew in his youth. In reliving his memories from the Revolution and Civil War, the old man feels perhaps he might have acted dishonorably in that long ago time. His family--cold and materialistic--is unsmypathetic.
In Time and Place (Vremya i Mesto, 1981), a novelist continually rewrites his novel about a novelist, but he never reaches an end.
Disappearance (Ischeznovaniye, published in 1987) is a novel centering on events in 1937 at the height of the Stalin terror. Innocents are arrested; the honest lose their sense of justice.
Yuri Trifonov died in Moscow in 1981.