Finlandia Prize nominated impressive travel book from present-day Russia, exploring the brutality at the forced labour camps of the Gulag system.
What was the Gulag? Who were the ones sent to the camps and what was their life like? The Road of Bones describes the experiences of those who ended up as victims to the fierce political power and the violence at the Soviet prison camps.
Russia experts Ville Ropponen and Ville-Juhani Sutinen travelled thousands of kilometers from Karelia to Siberia and the Far East Kolyma in search of monuments, cemeteries and ruins of prison camps that once covered vast areas of the Soviet Union.
They talked to people who had come into contact with the Gulag, each with their own story to tell, and backed up the work with literary references. During their road trip, the grim past kept pushing into the present, which resulted in a multi-layered, engaging and popular read.
”We’ve been driving for about half an hour when the car stops abruptly in a forest glade, as if it had died. The trees here are short, not because we’re so far north, but because the surrounding forest was felled to provide building material and firewood for the camp. At this latitude, it takes a larch three hundred years to grow to maturity, and only seventy-plus years have passed since the days of the Gulag.”