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Kolyma Tales (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin) Paperback – February 1, 1995
"The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10 comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, The Lying Game. Pre-order today
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Text: English, Russian (translation)
From the Back Cover
It is estimated that some three million people died in the Soviet forced-labour camps of Kolyma, in the north-eastern area of Siberia. Shalamov himself spent seventeen years there, and in these stories he vividly captures the lives of ordinary people caught up in terrible circumstances, their hopes and plans extending no further than a few hours.
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Top customer reviews
The brutallity of the heavy labor was such that if any prisoner ended up in the hospital they did everything possible to make their condition worse or atleast not get better, If they have a cut, they would tear the wound open and shove dirt in to create infections etc.. In one story, the men were in a hospital, but were looking for a way out from working in a gold mine. A group of them got together some bread scraps so they could buy a stick of dynamite from another prisoner. They then proceed to all put one hand on the stick of dynamite and blow their fingers off. After they blew their fingers off they were elated, because they now will not have to work in the gold mines. That certainly illustrates how bad life was in the gulag.
My great uncle ended up in Siberia for 10 years, survived, and was able to return to his country Latvia. Interestingly in Kolyma Tales, Latvians were mentioned a couple times, and typically they all died because they were big (need more food) in comparison to the typical Russian prisoner.
This book is a collection of short stories, most of which are about 3 – 6 pages each.
There is no common story or characters that link all of the stories in the book. Millions of people perished in these camps, and many people perished while Shalamov managed to survive. Some stories tell of Shalamov's work in the gold mines, other stories tell of his time in Siberia after he was finally released, and yet other set of stories deal directly with the political system that made gulags possible, treatment of women in the camps, as well as with the non-political prisoners - killers, child molesters, thieves who had a better life in the camps than political prisoners.
This book is a translation from Russian. Some sections flow better than others. I am a Russian native speaker and a near-native speaker of English, it was my choice to read the English translation. After having read the book, I would recommend that a Russian native speaker reads it in Russian. There are certain cultural aspects that are less pronounced in the book because some phenomena had to be explained vs being translated directly for the non-Russian readership. Again, nothing wrong with translation - it is a masterpiece in any language.