Book Rec: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Finished: 2021-03-28

Amazon affiliate link (kindle version, best translation)

YouTube link to the movie (pretty good, IMDB here)

This book was simply amazing. You’re sitting there reading an entire book about one day in a prisoner’s life. A day that Solzhenitsyn assures us is really no different than any of the others in Ivan’s 10 year sentence. Yet, it is one of the most gripping stories I’ve read.

I was motivated to read this mainly because of how politicized everything is. People calling each other communists and fascists left and right. It just made me want to read something about one of them. I decided to read something relating to either communism or fascism, and went with communism because we learn plenty about the Nazis in school.

If you’re interested in the book, whether or not you use my affiliate link, get the Willets translation. This is the translation linked (at least the Kindle version is). I’ll let an Amazon reviewer with much more knowledge than me speak to why this is the best translation:

The work was a huge critical success in the Soviet Union due to its nuanced integration of peasant vernacular and prison slang into its narrative structures. The older translations of this novel, which were originally released in the 60s, use stiff literary language and simply do not capture the idiom of the original . In addition, I believe Willetts’ translation is still the only authorized one by the author, which includes sections that were not redacted or censored by the government during the original publication.


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