The Cell
book — Germany — 1968

This is the rare case when I`m going to rate a book mostly basing upon political attitude and not its actual quality. You see, The Cell is the only book by a German author conserning the GULAG. Still in the content you don`t really get that its about the G. but its mentioned in the notes. The biography of the writer is probably more interesting than the book itself. Why? Because Bienek was arrested as a student in 1951 in Eastern Berlin (at the same age I`m in right now) for telling an Anti-Soviet anecdote. After spending quite a lot of time in a cell for one man he was sent to Vorkuta in Syberia and remained there for 4 years. In the book though all we get is sitting alone in a cell and going nuts from that. The hero has an imaginary inmate in his cell named Alban. He truly believes that Alban really exists until he notices an ant on the floor and then he understands that in fact as he had created Alban not to be lonely, so has Alban imagined this ant on the floor. And then comes the most significant part - he ain`t sure anymore that he himself isn`t an imagination of the ant.
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