Thirteen writers give voice to their experiences in Soviet prison camps.
Solzhenitsyn has been dead for two years and the Soviet Union for 20. Unfortunately, that empire’s gulag – the prison camp system that killed tens of millions of innocent citizens – is alive and well in countries across the globe, even as its ghosts continue to haunt contemporary Russia. The fall of the USSR meant that memoirs about the gulag system could be published in Russia, but somehow – unlike the German Holocaust – the gulag “is not a fashionable topic,” writes Anne Applebaum, American journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Gulag: A History."
“[T]he vast body of Gulag literature is for the most part not read in Russian schools or universities.”
Which makes her anthology Gulag Voices all the more important. In Applebaum’s collection, 13 relatively unknown writers (Alexander Solzhenitsyn, famed chronicler of the gulag, is not represented here) give voice to aspects of the gulag experience, from the early, scattershot days of terrifying repression in the 1930s to the smaller-scale but pitiless ’60s.