"One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Alexander Solzhenitsyn. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Signet, 1972. 142 pgs. 

I don't know how I made it this long without reading Solzhenitsyn. Somehow. Earlier this year a good friend pointed me to his Nobel prize speech, which is well worth reading. That same friend then lent me this book, which I finally got around to reading. In summary this book is one day in the life of a man sentenced to ten years in a Siberian labor camp. 

The book opens as Ivan wakes up and, being slower than normal, is called forward by a guard to receive his punishment. Ivan experiences a minor victory in that his punishment is merely to mop the guardroom floor. Barely 10 pages into the book and the (no doubt realistic) picture Solzhenitsyn paints of a Siberian labor camp is bleak. No matter how Ivan felt, I was struck again and again by just how terrible this all was. His victories were small highlights which lit the extent of tragedy to my eyes.. As I neared the end of the book and Ivan worked his way into receiving a second bowl of 'soup,' a final victory for his day, I rejoiced with him. Think about the transition I, as the reader, went through in those 140 pages. That is the skill and quality of Solzhenitsyn's writing. 

Conclusion: 5 Stars. Highly recommended. Well worth your time.  

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