Dmitry Vlodavsky was born in 1898 in the village of Bezdezh in the Kobrin County (in present-day Brest Oblast, Belarus). His father, Meir Vlodavsky, was a merchant of the first guild and a renter of estates.
Dmitry's parents enrolled him in a commercial school in Brest-Litovsk. Dmitry later moved to Lodz, where he worked at a factory, learning the weaver's trade.
At the time of the Revolution of 1917, Dmitry Vlodavsky was working as a railroad builder in the Valdai region. Fired with revolutionary zeal, he took part in organizing a soviet and became a Bolshevik. During the Russian Civil War, he saw action on several fronts. He also joined the Communist Party at the time.
In 1920, while staying in Poltava, Vlodavsky became friends with Vladimir Korolenko, a democratically-minded writer who had won widespread acclaim for his advocacy on behalf of victims of injustice. Vlodavsky would revere Korolenko for the rest of his life. At the same time, he gravitated toward Alexander Shlyapnikov's "workers' opposition", whereupon he quit the Communist Party and moved to Moscow.
Already during the Civil War, Vlodavsky had begun to write for the press, and his writing career continued in Moscow.
In 1925, Dmitry, who had adopted the pseudonym Stonov, published his first collection of short stories, The Fever. He was also a contributor to various magazines and newspapers. From the second half of the 1920s, Dmitry wrote novellas and short stories, many of which were published: With His Own Hand (1925), A Hundred Thousand (1927), People and Things (1928), the autobiographical novel The Raskin Family (1929), Tales of the Altai (1930), The Blue Bone (1932), and Esterka (1938). By that time, he had become thoroughly disenchanted with the Soviet regime, although he refrained from voicing his views in public.
In 1934, Stonov became a member of the recently established Union of Soviet Writers.
In 1942, Stonov was called up to serve in the Red Army. For the next two years, he fought on the Stalingrad and Ukrainian fronts.
In 1944, Dmitry Stonov was seriously shell-shocked and discharged from the army.
After returning to Moscow, he worked in the Radio Committee and taught at the Literature Institute.
Dmitry Stonov took an active part in the work of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, and his articles appeared in the Eynikayt newspaper. In March 1949, at the height of the campaign against the "rootless cosmopolitans," he was arrested.
Stonov's interrogators demanded that he give incriminating testimony against his friends – the prominent writers David Bergelson, Ilya Ehrenburg, Yury Olesha, Vasily Grossman, and others. He refused to cooperate, despite being tortured, and was eventually sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment.
In 1954, a year after Stalin's death, Dmitry Stonov was released from jail and fully rehabilitated.
After returning to Moscow, Stonov worked intensively, touring the Soviet Union and gathering materials for future books.
In 1959, his novella Teklya and Her Friends was published. It was followed by In the City of Our Fathers in 1964.
Dmitry Stonov died in Moscow in 1962.
1989 saw the publication of Dmitry Stonov's short story cycle Last Night, which had been written back in 1955-56, and described the horrors of the Soviet camps.