Gulag Letters


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Arsenii Formakov; Edited, Translated, and with an Introduction by Emily D. Johnson

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A poignant collection of letters written by the Latvian poet, novelist, and newspaper editor Arsenii Formakov while interned in Soviet labor camps

Emily Johnson has translated and edited a fascinating collection of letters written by Arsenii Formakov, a Latvian Russian poet, novelist, and journalist, during two terms in Soviet labor camps, 1940 to 1947 in Kraslag and 1949 to 1955 in Kamyshlag and Ozerlag. This correspondence, which Formakov mailed home to his family in Riga, provides readers with a firsthand account of the workings of the Soviet penal system and testifies to the hardships of daily life for Latvian prisoners in the Gulag.

Emily D. Johnson is associate professor of Russian at the University of Oklahoma. She lives in Norman, OK.

“This volume provides an exciting new type of primary source in translation that will be of interest not just to Soviet scholars but also to a general public that remains fascinated by the history of the Gulag and of the concentration camps in general. Gulag Letters represents an absolutely unique contribution to the historiography of the Soviet Union, the Gulag, and Soviet Latvia.” —Alan Barenberg, author of Gulag Town, Company Town

"This collection makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of the particularities of Gulag life and of the psychological understanding of its inhabitants."—Jeffrey S. Hardy, Russian Review


“This collection offers powerful testimony to the influence of the state on the individual, and is a notable addition to Gulag survivor accounts.”—Nanci Adler, Slavic Review

Winner of the 2019 Translation Prize, sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (AATSEEL)
ISBN: 9780300209310
Publication Date: June 20, 2017
304 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
15 b/w illus.
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