Last Updated September 5, 2023.
This novel by Sinyavsky, published in 1960, is a strong critique of Soviet control over Russian citizens, especially regarding censorship and lack of freedom of the press. Due to the scrutiny of the totalitarian regime in Russia at the time, Sinyavsky wrote under the pseudonym of Abram Tertz and had his novels published in the West. His novel entitled On Socialist Realism exposed constrained and unjust living conditions under Communism; he was arrested, tried, and sentenced for his opinions. He then served six years in a harsh labor camp for "his crimes."
The Trial Begins is a compilation of notes and documents secretly recorded about that private trial of Sinyavsky (and another Russian dissident, Yuli Daniel) for his supposed treasonous acts of questioning the power of the Soviet government. The novel exposed intentional efforts by the Soviet government to use propaganda to sabotage the trial of the two defendants and to quash the public and international outcry for justice for the men. The book reveals that there was no Soviet law at the time which prevented the publishing of Soviet writers's works abroad. As citizens in the Soviet Union and around the world demanded freedom of speech and press, public pressure mounted for release of the men, which sadly did not take place.
The Trial Begins is a compelling commentary on the rising samizdat press and growing solidarity for human rights around the world during the post-Stalin era.