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How the Gulag robbed Varlam Shalamov of his humanity

The newly-translated Kolyma Stories describe the unreal cruelty of Soviet labour camps

By Tom Ball  

NKVD photo of Shalamov

Communism is in vogue again. Since all but vanishing from Britain’s political landscape in the 1990s, signs of resurgent support for Marxist-Leninism are now once again clearly manifest in young leftist circles.

Like everything else, politics is subject to the ebb and flow of fashion, and it isn’t a surprise that the teachings of the German economist and his Russian modifiers have been taken up by a new generation. More surprising, perhaps, was a series of tweets about the Gulag put out a couple of weeks ago…

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