A World Apart

Recommended by Anne Applebaum, and 1 others. See all reviews

Ranked #96 in Poland

A searing, personal literary account of life in a Soviet prison camp

In 1940, Gustaw Herling was arrested after he joined an underground Polish army that fell into Russian hands. He was sent to a northern Russian labor camp, where he spent the two most terrible years of his life. In A World Apart, he tells of the people he was imprisoned with, the hardships they endured, and the indomitable spirit and will that allowed them to survive. Above all, he creates portraits of how people - deprived of basic human necessities and forced to worked at hard labor - can come...

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Anne Applebaum Gustaw Herling-Grudziński was a Pole who was captured by the Russians after their invasion of Poland in 1939. He wasn’t in the Gulag for long – only a couple of years, until 1941 – but what I like about his book is that, unlike many memoirs, it’s not just about his story or what happened to him. It’s more like a series of short stories, of the kind written by [Varlam] Shalamov or one of the Gulag novelists. Each chapter is a story about a different person or situation, together with an accompanying set of thoughts or meditations. (Source)

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