I just finished reading Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate. It was puffed by George Steiner amongst others as the greatest Russian novel of Twentieth Century. To be honest I found it a bit of a drag. There were a few bits of very good writing and a lot of melodramatic stuff. In the end I didn't really care very much about any of the War and Peace size cast of characters. But yet again serendipity strikes.
One of the plot lines involves a Jewish theoretical physicist who makes a revolutionary new discovery. Initially he is recommended for a Stalin Prize, but his scientific and political enemies decide that a bit of anti-semitism may be expedient, turn against him and attempt to have his scientific work condemned as anti-Soviet and not in accordance with the principles of Marxist-Leninism. All very plausible for the 1940s, but I thought that most totalitarian dictatorships had by now learned that science is just science. Apparently not, as I saw today from one of Andrew Gelman's posts. The publication of the Chinese version of his text Data Analysis Using Regression and Multilevel/Hierarchical Models has been cancelled because of its "politically sensitive" content.