0003 | Cancer Ward – Alexandr Solzhenitsyn


I started this wondering where the novel was going to come from. Then it crept up and hit me with such force that I was left reeling for the rest of the book. Each chapter is a gem worthy of meditation in itself and Solzhenitsyn strings these gems into a stunning creation. The characters are exquisitely sculptured; there’s so much of the author in Kostoglotov that it makes for a fascinating read just following this one man through the book and wondering how much of the character is based on fact and how much imaginary. A truly great book…

It was made all the more poignant by the fact that I have one close friend and very close relative presently fighting cancer. Hmmm…

On top of everything, the cancer wing was Number 13.

“What can divide human beings on earth once they are all faced with death?”
“You can’t know everything in the world. Whatever happens, you’ll die a fool.”
“We are so attached to the earth, and yet we are incapable of holding on to it.

anamnesis: medical history – the case history of a medical patient as recalled by the patient

An evil man threw tobacco in the Macaque Rhesus’s eyes. Just like that…

terrible > poor > mediocre > okay > good > very good > excellent > superb

2007 – Jan

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  1. I could not agree more with your assessment and rating of this book. One of my favorite novels of all time.
    This will be a very stupid comment, a dumb ting to say, but CW has one of the most memorable [for me] closing lines, ever. Often, when I am in a bookstore or at a book sale and see a copy of CW, I will open it just to read the last line[s]. Kind of a weird habit, I know.
    You are planning to read Applebaum’s “Gulag”? I have oft-looked at that hefty book and have wanted to read it.
    — Cip

  2. Yeah… I’ve also just finished The First Circle and wanted a break from Gulag-ish things for a while. In time I’ll be back to it along with that Stalin book!

  3. What I appreciate about your post is your picture is the identical edition of Cancer Ward I have had for years. (That book has been to Africa and back with me twice).

    One mystery though — what on earth do seagulls have to do with the story? Tashkent is miles from any sea, so is Kok Terek.

  4. I have just finished reading this book, and wow, this author really hit a nerve in this story, It really digs into details regarding cancer treatment and the ways people cope with certain apects of dealing with cancer. I recommend this book to anyone who has been touched by cancer in their lives.

  5. Love your format for reviews. Thanks for stopping by my review and your comments. Love this author’s writing.

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