One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
1962 / 148 pages
rating – 9.5
I was spoiled by In the First Circle, also about life in Stalin’s Soviet prison camps, but a specialized scientific camp for that one. That’s why this book is rated a 9.5.
This story is based on the life of Solzhenitsyn who lived in the camps for eight years. Told in third person, it describes one average day for Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, a typical prisoner. The day is a good one in spite of fighting for food of which some is saved back, arduous labor in freezing temperatures, oppressive guards, insane rules about lining up and going with others everywhere. Several other characters are lightly developed and are all obviously different in spite of the deadening atmosphere and environment.
The book is noted for how Solzhenitsyn really gets inside Shukhov’s head. Also for the totally unemotional way he describes the terror of a prison camp in Siberia.