The Road of Bones

Description

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.”  

Genre

Author

Original title

Luiden tie - Gulagin jäljillä

Year of publication

2019

Original publisher

Like Publishing

Page count

399

Nominations

  • Finlandia Non-Fiction Prize 2019

Reviews

"An engaging and haunting study of both private and collective memory, and oblivion – and of the confusing simultaneity of remembering and forgetting, which allows the rulers to use the version that fits their agenda."
Finlandia Non-Fiction Prize Jury
"Although the subject matter is grim and, in a way, almost incredible, the authors are able to portray the story with deep humanity and respect for human dignity. As intellectuals, their irony is brisk, and one reads on with pleasure. The book is impressive, crafted with skill."
Kymen Sanomat newspaper
"An immediate classic of non-fiction and travel literature."
Rosa Liksom, author
"The authors go through the stages of the state terror, and thanks to completed background work, the outcome is the most widespread Finnish presentation of the gulag, a prototype of a modern massacre."