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it was amazing
This was a tough read but one I am very glad to have read. This was a collection of stories about the conditions in Soviet forced-labour camps during the Stalinist regime. It definitely filled in many of the knowledge gaps I had of what happened in the Siberian gulags. Only someone who spent time in a Siberian labour camp could ever have come up with such a collection of short stories, stories that capture the abysmal conditions of the camps, describe what the camp does to the human psyche (both
“Nature in the north is not impersonal or indifferent; it is in conspiracy with those who sent us.”
The disease, hunger, violence and despair are all described in descriptive detail. The conditions beg the question: does anybody really deserve to be sent to such places, regardless of the crime they (allegedly) committed? Siberia is a place where winter temperatures are often around -60F, where temperatures of -13F was considered summery. Of course, what makes things even worse is the fact that most of the people sent to the camp weren’t even criminals, but innocent victims of the Stalinist regime. Plus, often their sentences were disproportionate to their supposed crimes.
“The arrests of the thirties were arrests of random victims on the false and terrifying theory of a heightened class struggle accompanying the strengthening of socialism.”
I liked the structure of the book; it was divided into several short stories, each dealing with different characters. Shalamov’s tone was also very matter-of-fact, so it was easier for me to handle the gruesome details.
This is definitely such an important work of literature. I can only imagine with his 17 years of living in Kolyma, Shalamov had to get everything out of his system.
To end with a quote I really liked : “Life repeats Shakespearian themes more often than we think.”
A big THANK YOU to Vera for recommending this book to me 🙂
Kolyma Tales was my first used book purchase via Amazon. (I feel obligated to honor our benefactor at every turn now. I even touch my breast when I say Amazon.)
Emerging from a blue period, I truly had no idea how beautiful this harrowing account would be. I don’t detect any tension between the sublime and Kolyma. Imre Kertész has taught me well. It is chance, it is human. Survival simply wasn’t possible. Those that did emerge, were stripped of something. Kolyma is a protean creation: it is a nov
“La nostra epoca è riuscita a far dimenticare all’uomo che è un essere umano”
Salamov ci racconta quello che ha vissuto nei 17 anni trascorsi ai lavori forzati nell’inferno della Kolyma, ossia la Siberia orientale. Un luogo inospitale dove d’inverno si raggiungono i sessanta gradi sotto zero. Conosciamo così, tramite i suoi occhi, uno dei più terribili orrori dello scorso secolo: i campi di concentramento sovietici, organizzati da Stalin, dove tra gli anni trenta e cinquanta persero la vita impun