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An Innovative Writer: Orlando Figes

Lelouch Lambourne

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Mr. Orlando Figes rose to popularity was because of his works. He authored books that are centered on the colorful Russian History. Some of his works that received unbelievable popularity was “Natasha’s Dance” which was released in the year 2002, “A People’s Tragedy” which was published in the year 1996 and “The Whisperers” which was published in the year 2007. Mr. Figes uses a certain technique in which he incorporates the oral, social and cultural history information to create a more clear view on what was it like in that time. Also, he fused the academic and literary writing styles.

His “The Whisperers” and “Natasha’s Dance” were all short listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize which made Mr. Orlando Figes to be the only writer in the history of The Samuel Johnson prize to be listed twice. Not only that, his work “The Whisperers” was also included for the Ondaatje Prize short list. Not only that, but his works were recognized to be a part of the Prix Medicis and Premio Roma shorts list. His latest work that was published in the year 2010 was the Crimea: The Last Crusade it is focused on the Crimean War of the years 1853 up to the year 1856. Mr. Figes is a part of the Russian History’s editorial journal board.

Mr. Orlando Figes sourced numerous private family archives from the people’s homes across the land of Russia and conducted more than one thousand interviews among the era’s survivors as well as the people who are responsible for the Stalinist repressions so that he can make his book “The Whisperers” as fact filled as possible and because of that book, Mr. Figes was able to greatly contribute to the development of Russia’s Oral history. The memorial society also provided great help to Mr. Figes because it is where he sourced the family archives. His book “The Whisperer” is considered to contain one of the biggest compilations of true to life stories in the regime of Stalin.

“The Whisperers”, which was described by experts to be one of the greatest literary monuments for the Soviet people has been translated into more than twenty languages. Inside Mr. Figes’ book, he stressed out the fact about the importance of oral stories for the recapturing the history of the former repression of the Soviet Union. Considering that matter, Mr. Figes still states that no testimony spoken in an interview should be 100% reliable. For him, oral testimonies and written memoirs of the past both share the same function. The only difference is that you cannot test and cross examine the evidence through a written diary but you can do it with a live survivor. The soviet poet Konstantin Simonov was highly detailed by Mr. Orlando Figes in his The Whisperers book.


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