Author(s): Orlando Figes
Almost everything we know about the terrible experience of the Gulag has been based on survivor memoirs, in many cases written decades later. For obvious reasons there is very little authentic, contemporary material. "Just Send Me Word" is a uniquely powerful and moving experience. It is the story of the relationship between Lev and Sveta, two young Muscovites separated by the Second World War and then the Gulag, where the Soviet state sent Lev for ten years on absurd and arbitrary charges. Extraordinarily, during Lev's long exile in an Arctic camp they were able to smuggle letters to each other and even meet. Both sides of the entire correspondence have survived and these letters (of which there are some 1,500) form a detailed and agonizing account of life in Stalin's Soviet Union. They are a testament to human constancy under impossible circumstances - a love story like no other.
A heart-rending record of extraordinary human endurance Kirkus Reviews This powerful narrative by a distinguished historian will take its place not just in history but in literature - Robert Massie [A] remarkable tale of love and devotion during the worst years of the USSR ... [Figes's] fine narrative pacing enhances this moving, memorable story Publishers Weekly Immensely touching ... [a] heartening gem of a book - Anna Reid Literary Review
'The great storyteller of modern Russian historians' Financial Times Orlando Figes was granted exclusive access to the thousands of letters between Lev and Sveta that form the foundation of Just Send Me Word, and he was able to interview the couple in person, then in their nineties. These real-time and largely uncensored letters form the largest cache of Gulag letters ever found. Figes is Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is the author of Peasant Russia, Civil War, A People's Tragedy, Natasha's Dance, The Whisperers and Crimea. He lives in Cambridge and London. His books have been translated into over twenty languages.