The Diary of a Gulag Prison Guard, by Ivan Chistyakov, translated by Arch Tait

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

Let me say at the outset, this is not a book that anyone would read for pleasure.  The Diary of a Gulag Prison Guard is raw and confronting, written by a man struggling to maintain his mental health in an environment designed to brutalise him.  I read it for Vishy’s Red October Russian Reads, and it is indeed a very salutary reminder of the extremes of the Soviet experiment…

It has relevance today because there are, no doubt, similar situations in repressive regimes such as China’s, but also in places like Australia’s detention centres where we know from media reports that it is not just the detainees who suffer mental health problems.  (But we only know this about Australian guards, there are only hostile media reports about PNG local guards and yet it would be surprising if some of them were not also gravely troubled by their work and…

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