Vasil Bykaŭ (also Vasil Bykov) was born in in Byčki, near Viciebsk in 1924. His parents were peasants. He initially went to art school and studied sculpture. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, he initially worked as a trench digger but then joined the Red Army. While with his unit, he stopped to get some tea and lost touch with his unit. He slept in a ruined house but was then arrested the next day as a spy. Most of the prisoners in his cell were shot but the soldier escorting him allowed hm to escape and he rejoined his unit.
He served in the army till the mid-fifties and then became a journalist. He started writing at this time and produced a succession of stories and novels, nearly all set in World War II. The books were written in Belarusian but translated into Russian, often by himself. Several of his books have appeared in English, often translated from the Russian rather than Belarusian. He was a deputy in the Supreme Soviet on several occasions. He died in 2003. He is now generally accepted as the leading Belarusian novelist.
(Only books translated into English)
1962 Трэцяя ракета (The Third Flare) (stories)
1964 Альпийская баллада (Alpine Ballad) (novel)
1965 Мёртвым не баліць (The Dead Feel No Pain ) (novel)
1970 Сотніка (The Ordeal) (novel)
1973 Дажыць да світання (Live Unto Dawn) (novel)
1974 Воўчая зграя (Pack of Wolves) (novel)
1975 Яго батальён (His Battalion) (novel)
1983 Знак бяды (Portent of Disaster; later : Sign of Misfortune)