One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Updated: Jan 6, 2019

Rating- 4/10


It's always good to revert back to classic contemporary literature amongst all my current and flashy reads. Ross, a buddy of mine lent me this book to read along with a few others and was intrigued by this novel.


One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is about an ordinary prisoner inmate named Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, it is set in a soviet labour camp in the 1950s under the ruling of Stalin's communist oppression. It follows him on a normal work day in the camp/prison and the struggles he faces in order to survive a brutal, gruelling and harsh day in the prison.


This novel was originally published in the Soviet Journal 'Novy Mir' (new world) in 1962. It was one of the original stories that spoke the truth about what it was really like to be imprisoned during the Soviet Union. This is not a light read in the slightest, it's dark, heavy, intense and dire. You really get a sense of what it was like to be a prisoner during this harsh time in Stalin's forced work camps. The brutality is so real. You seriously appreciate all the little things we take for granted in our lives, a simple hot meal, warm clothes, an extra blanket, basic necessities. I don't think we'll ever know what it would truly be like to live in these work camps. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn does an incredible job portraying this in the novel.


That being said, personally, I found the book itself hard to read, not language wise, but more that I was bored reading it. Like really bored! It really does sort of go on about how cruel a 'one day in the life is', and it didn't really scratch the surface for me. I felt no emotions while reading this book, none, maybe because it's Russian history? Or could be because I feel the story lacked substance behind the brutal tale? It just didn't do it for me, I couldn't relate. Also the fact that there weren't any chapters to break up the story meant that it went on and on .. and at the end, yes you get to appreciate the little things in life, and to take it all day by day, if only we could all be like Ivan! It did not move me or pull my heart strings. That's my honest opinion about it and I gotta keep it real.


The fact that it won the Nobel Prize for Literature gave it 2 points on the rating, and the meaning behind the story itself was real and honest. That, I do respect, but beyond that? Just didn't get my juices flowing.


Although, if your a Russian history buff and like a good & intense real story then it's definitely worth a read. It's also a legit winter book btw! I tried to read this in the glorious sunshine we were having in London and it totally killed my vibe. You've been warned.


Click here to check out 'One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich' from Amazon books.

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