International Writers Inspiring Change book review: Stalin’s Sniper, by A.G. Mogan

Stalin’s Sniper, by A.G. Mogan, is a haunting and surreal historical novel, based on the diary of Roza Shanina and commentary by those who knew her. Roza Shanina grew up in pre-WWII Russia. Schooled by a strict Communist father, she developed a passion to fight for her homeland, and by the 7th grade she was already an accomplished shooter. She battled her way through the patriarchal stanchions of Russian mediocrity, eventually making it to the front, where she fought courageously, as bravely as any man next to her. Her kill-list of Nazis and the fact that she is part of a small regiment of female snipers, turns her into a national hero, a true warrior and nationalist. And yet, throughout the war, she battles with something that is missing inside her, and because she is a woman, she is also objectified and treated as something to be used for sexual gratification. Reading her words, which are carefully and skillfully integrated in this novel, gives one a sense of what it was like to lie in ditches during brutally cold winters, the near brushes with death, feeling what she felt each time a friend was killed, and truly, what it was like for a woman to excel in a world where men dominated the playing field. An excellent read and eye-opening.

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