When I was in high school, someone decided the theme for all the literature we would read in grades 11 and 12 English would be “imprisoned lives.” We did read some great books, but it was a gloomy couple of years.
One of the more painful offerings we studied was “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” by Aleksandr Solzhentisyn. In case you’ve missed this one, (spoilers) it’s about a day in the life of a guy in a Soviet labour camp in the 1950s. It’s a rough day, by our standards. He’s sick and hungry and cold and he lays bricks and life is hard. But at the end of the day, he’s kind of happy because it was a good day, comparatively, I think because he wasn’t beaten and maybe someone gave him a cigarette. I don’t completely remember. I can’t say I loved this book. Continue reading