Joseph Dik – Soviet writer
In the Soviet years Joseph Dik was called one of the most prominent representatives of Russian literature. He was friends with Kassil, Paustovsky, Tvardovsky, Trifonov, enjoyed wild success with women. And no one noticed that the writer did not have both hands and an eye.
He was born on August 20, 1922 in Moscow, in the family of Ion Dichesku (Ivan Dik), one of the founders of the Romanian Communist Party. From morning until late evening, his father was at work, but still found time to go to the theater with his son, taught him how to shoot with a small-caliber rifle, and bought books for him. And when at the age of 10 the boy tried to write poetry, the father explained to him what a rhythm was and how to choose rhymes.
Childhood ended in 1937. Joseph’s parents were arrested as “enemies of the people”, and he and his younger sister were sent to the Rybinsk orphanage.
In 1940, Joseph joined the local literary club at the Rybinskaya Pravda newspaper. Soon the young man began to write stories. For the first publication in the newspaper he received a fee, for which he bought two cakes and a bottle of lemonade. Then a new dream appeared – to become a geologist. After school, Joseph went to Leningrad to enter the Mining Institute. He had hardly finished the first course, when the war began. And the young man was sent to the military aviation technical school. Soon, future aircraft engineers were taken from Leningrad to Siberia, to the city of Ishim.
Upon completion of the training, a young sergeant was sent to the Southwestern Front. Joseph served as a senior pyrotechnician and was responsible for ammunition. The battles were near the Ukrainian village of Belokurakin, where warehouses with explosives were located. During the raids, Joseph lay still in the snow next to the stacks of camouflaged shells. He did this deliberately, believing that if a bomb dropped from a fighter landed in a warehouse, then the senior pyrotechnician, as responsible for the safety of ammunition, would still be shot, it would be better to fly into the air with them.
In early May 1942, Joseph was blown up on a mine. He lost the hands of both arms, his eye was injured. Having woken up in the medical battalion, Dik realized that he could no longer hold the geological hammer in his hands. The young man was only 20 years old…
Joseph went to Central Asia, to the Samarkand hospital. Once at the entrance to the dining room a young man saw an ad: “Wounded! Which of you, due to the separation of your arms or legs, wants to become a writer, come today at three o’clock on the stage. There will be a professor!”
“Professor” was a teacher of the pedagogical institute, poet Sergei Malakhov. He decided to organize a literary club in the hospital. So Joseph began a new life. Joseph began to write poetry, holding a pencil in his teeth. He met with young Samarkand poets.
At the end of 1942, Dik was transferred to Tashkent, where the eye hospital, headed by academician Filatov, was evacuated. On the very first day, Joseph fled from there and appeared at the editorial office of the local newspaper Pravda Vostoka. He wanted to meet literary consultant, well-known publicist Vasily Reginin.
The young poet dreamed of the Gorky Literary Institute. However, this seemed unattainable: there was a war, the police issued passes to Moscow only in extreme cases. After recovery, he had to return to Samarkand. In the Tashkent hospital, Joseph made friends with the lieutenant colonel Baranovsky, who helped him get a position as a political commissar. At the same time, Dik worked in the Samarkand newspaper Leninsky Put.
In Samarkand Joseph met his future wife. Larisa studied in the tenth grade. Schoolgirls sewed tobacco pouches for wounded soldiers, visited them in the hospital. Joseph received pouch sewn by Larisa.
They first met on the porch of the hospital. Joseph went to the girl, holding his hands in his pockets: “Sorry, I have fingers in the jam!” Only then she learned about his injury. But by that time she was already madly in love with this handsome, broad-shouldered guy with black curly hair.
As soon as Larisa graduated from high school, they got married.
At the end of November 1943, a telegram came from Reginin, who had by then moved to Moscow: “Send the manuscript documents to the Literary Institute.” Dik couldn’t wait for an answer by mail and together with his young wife he went to Moscow. At the Literary Institute, Dik was enrolled without entrance exams. Then Joseph continued his education and entered the Institute of Foreign Languages, where he studied English literature.
In 1947, the first collection of Dik’s short stories, The Golden Fish, was published, and in 1949 he was accepted into the Writers’ Union. He wrote a lot of books for children. But he did not just write about children, he loved them. Dik often talked with them and played games.
Joseph had a passion for travel and adventures. Once, collecting material for another children’s book, he found himself on a submarine. And he went with friends on rafts along the Bie River.
Shortly before his death, he, seriously ill, managed to obtain permission to travel to Paris.
Soviet writer was married three times and had two daughters and a son.
Joseph Dik died on July 22, 1984, at the age of 61.