Alexander Solzhenitsyn has died.
I can't even remember how I learned about him. Probably during my early obsession with Russian writers. I remember reading One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and then The Gulag Archipelago (the first of three thick volumes) when I was about 19 or 20.
I'm sure much of what Solzhenitsyn talked about and referenced was lost on me, but the stories of what was done to the people was certainly not. I don't remember ever being so thankful for just a piece of bread until after I read TGA. I highly recommend both One Day in the Life and even just the first volume of The Gulag Archipelago. An uncut translation of his novel The First Circle is reportedly due out in 2009 as a Harper Perennial paperback.
I have copies of The Gulag Archipelago, Cancer Ward, The First Circle (the edition originally published in the 1960's or 1970's), and maybe a copy of A Day in the Life that I will mail to whoever wants a copy. Email me and I will ship you a copy of whatever you want, if I have any copies left. It's not rosy reading and definitely not humor, but it is mind blowing, I assure you. Yet another example of the depths and heights and strength the human spirit is capable of.