Kolyma Tales Shalanov, Varlan (PDF)

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Title: Kolyma Tales
Author: Shalanov, Varlan

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Varlam Tikhonovich Shalamov was born in 1907.
A prose writer and poet, he has become known
chiefly for his Kolyma Tales , in which he
describes life in the Soviet forced-labour camps in
north eastern Siberia. It is a theme he returns to in
a second collection of stories, Graphite.
Shalamov was arrested for some unknown ‘crime’
in 1929 when he was only twenty-two and a
student at the law school of Moscow University.
He was sentenced to three years in Solovki, a
former monastery that had been confiscated from
the Church and converted into a concentration
camp. In 1937 he was arrested again and sentenced
to five years in Kolyma. In 1942 his sentence was
extended ‘till the end of the war’; in 1943 he
received an additional ten-year sentence for having
praised the effectiveness of the German army and

having described Ivan Bunin, the Nobel laureate,
as a ‘classic Russian writer’. He appears to have
spent a total of seventeen years in Kolyma.
Shalamov did manage to smuggle Kolyma Tales
out to the West, and they were published in
German and French (and only much later in
English). The Soviet authorities then forced him to
sign a statement, published in Literaturnaya
gazeta in 1972, in which he stated that the topic of
Kolyma Tales was no longer relevant after the
Twentieth Party Congress, ‘that he had never sent
out any manuscripts, and that he was a loyal Soviet
citizen’. Once Shalamov had renounced Kolyma
Tales, he was permitted to publish his poems in the
Soviet Union, and these began to appear in literary
journals in 1956. Four small collections were
published between 1961 and 1972. When he first
came across an anthology of Shalamov’s poetry,
Solzhenitsyn said that he ‘trembled as if he were
meeting a brother’. Varlam Shalamov died in

John Glad is an associate professor in the
department of Slavic Studies at the University of
Maryland. His translation of Kolyma Tales was
nominated for the American Book Award.

Kolyma Tales
Translated from the Russian by JOHN GLAD


Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R
0RL, England
Penguin Putnam Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New
York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 250 Camberwell
Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 10 Alcorn Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2
Penguin Books India (P) Ltd, 11 Community
Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017,
Penguin Books (NZ) Ltd, Cnr Rosedale and
Airborne Roads, Albany, Auckland, New Zealand
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24
Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand,
London WC2R 0RL, England

The following stories in this collection were first
published in 1980 in the USA by W. W. Norton &
Company, ©John Glad 1980, under the title
Kolyma Tales. On Tick, In the Night, Dry
Rations, A Child’s Drawings, Condensed Milk,
The Snake Charmer, Shock Therapy, The
Lawyers’ Plot, Magic, A Piece of Meat, Major
Pugachov’s Last Battle, The Used-Book Dealer,
Lend-Lease, Sententious, The Train and Quiet.
Other stories in this collection, as follows, were
first published in 1981 in the USA by W. W.
Norton & Company, © John Glad 1981, under the
title Graphite. Through the Snow, An Individual
Assignment, The Apostle Paul, Berries, Tamara
the Bitch, Cherry Brandy, The Golden Taiga, A
Day Off, Dominoes, Typhoid Quarantine, The
Procurator of Judea, The Lepers, Descendant of
a Decembrist, Committees for the Poor, The
Seizure, An Epitaph, Handwriting, Captain
Tolly’s Love, The Green Procurator, The Red
Cross, Women in the Criminal World, Grisbka
Logun’s Thermometer, The Life of Engineer
Kipreev, Mr Popp’s Visit, The Letter, Fire and

Water and Graphite.
This collection published in Penguin Books 1994
Original stories copyright © Iraida Pavlovna
Sirotinskaya, 1980
Translation copyright © John Glad, 1980, 1981,
All rights reserved
The moral right of the author has been asserted
Except in the United States of America, this book
is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by
way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired
out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s
prior consent in any form of binding or cover other
than that in which it is published and without a
similar condition including this condition being
imposed on the subsequent purchaser
ISBN: 978-0-14-196195-8

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