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19 November 2018

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Just Send Me Word

Orlando Figes
(Henry Holt, $27)

Life, as they say, is always stranger than fiction.

After internment in a Nazi prisoner of war camp, Lev is sent to a Gulag in the Far North (accused, as were many, of treason for having allowed themselves to be caught by the Germans). Suddenly, after five years of imprisonment, Lev receives a letter out of the blue from his love, Sveta, whom he never hoped to hear from again.

Over the next eight years, they exchange over 1500 letters – and even a few visits. Figes weaves their recently discovered correspondence between descriptions of events in the wider world to present what is surely the most revealing, intimate and detailed account of its type. A truly inspiring story of two individuals’ victory over the forces of helplessness and evil.

— Paul E. Richardson

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Reviewed in Russian Life: May/June 2012