From The Ghostwriter’s Notebook

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While I was writing “Waking Nightmares” I got interested in the Russian writer Varlam Shalamov, perhaps the greatest artist to have survived the Gulag, if ‘survive’ is the right word. Sadly, he got cut down to a couple of footnotes in the end; maybe I’ll come back to him one day. I read him in translation, of course, but his writing has a terrible spareness that has stayed with me: it’s as though language has been starved and brutalised until all that remains is the unsaid, the gaps between words, the silences; the spaces in which a fugitive joy can be found.

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