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One Book, One Chicago, and Moscow

By Margaret Hicks in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 21, 2006 3:11PM

ivan.gifWe love to see people on the El all reading the same book. It’s a great conversation starter and it’s even more fun when it’s part of the Chicago Public Library’s One Book, One Chicago program. On February 15, CPL announced the tenth book in the program, "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. What’s extra cool about this pick is that we will partner up with readers in our sister city, Moscow, who have chosen the book for their first ever One Book, One Moscow series.

"One Day in the Life" was first published in 1962 and Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970. The book was inspired by his own experiences and describes life in a Russian work camp as seen through the eyes of the title character Ivan Denisovich. Da mayor describes it in his own words; “it has been heralded as the most realistic description of the gulag, and it speaks for the nearly 20 million Soviet citizens who worked in mines, cut down trees, dug canals, built railroads, factories, cities under a forced labor system."

We’re going to start reading now, because by April, discussions, panels and dramatic readings will be happening throughout the city. And if you’re still not sure whether you want to invest the time, try and ignore this comment from Solzhenitsyn himself: “Although the current times dispose us to sit back and watch our works of literature on the screen, there is no substituting for the effort we exert in spirit by reading, by going outside our own experience; in this case, by walking in the shoes of our cold, exhausted, famished brethren.”