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Gray is the Color of Hope
Irina Ratushinskaya
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Gray is the Color of Hope

4.32  ·  Rating Details  ·  250 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Irina Ratushinskaya is a Russian Dissident/Poet who spent years in a Siberian Prison.
Published 1988
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(showing 1-30 of 661)
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Jul 24, 2009 Sparrow rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Soviet Union buffs
Recommended to Sparrow by: Laura Rice
The relationship between the Russian language and the English language is one of the most compelling proofs that the universe has a sense of humor (and horror). That, democracy, and snuggies. Grey is the Color of Hope is tragic and compelling enough as a story that saying I didn't like it would be like saying I hate babies or ice cream or what have you. Really, how can you find fault with a prison-camp memoir? "Well, if I was in a prison camp, I would have written something with more sex appeal" ...more
Jun 12, 2010 Janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia
A gulag memoir of Ratushinskaya's seven years in the Special Zone for women politicals in a camp in Mordovia. A poet and human rights advocate, she portrays a life of conviction and integrity which is inspiring in any setting. Has given me much thought about the whole issue of integrity, the compromises we make to 'get along,' and what happens when someone so values her integrity, that she sees herself as free because she makes her own decisions and controls her choices, even when in a special l ...more
Jul 23, 2011 Denise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the few school assigned books I've felt a desire to read again and again. Partly responsible for the inspiration behind my painting, Grey.

Art Prints
Grey is the Color of Hope stands out as one of the most searingly honest depiction of humanity I've ever read. Irina Ratushinskaya's memoir unpretentiously recounts her time served as a political prisoner in a Soviet labor camp for women. A human rights activist and poet, Irina was convicted of, " agitation carried on for the purpose of subverting or weakening the Soviet regime," and in 1983 was sentenced to seven years of labor camp and five years internal exile.
The women of the Zone (the
Aug 25, 2008 Kris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. It's so good nothing I write will do it justice, so I'm stealing a reviewer's description. "As a [Soviet] camp memoir Ratushinskaya's book gives complete satisfaction. It is uncommonly well written...The central figure is intelligent, witty, self-deprecatory, genuinely compassionate toward her fellow sufferers." New Republic

"Intensely lyrical and acutely observed, Grey is the color of Hope, is Irina Tatushinskaya's account of the four years she spent in a strict regime labor camp at Barashe
Jun 14, 2008 Brooke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So I was taking a Russian history class in college and we had to choose three books to read and write a paper about each. I randomly chose this book off of the list of 100 works. I had no idea what was in store for me. This book chronicles the stay in a Russian prison of the author who was a poet in the Soviet Union. It was shocking the things they endure. I mean you know its going to be bad because it was a Soviet prison but it really just shocked my 21 year old brain. I would highly, highly re ...more
Mar 03, 2008 Pam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating account of the life of Irina Ratushinskaya, a political prisoner in a Soviet prison camp in the 80's. She is sent there because of her “anti-Soviet” activity, which is to say that she was a poet who wrote about things of a suspect nature, like love and religion. The book is interesting not only because Ratushinskaya's stories are intriguing, but also because it gives the reader a sense of what life was like at that time in the Soviet Union for someone who may not have whole ...more
Jenny Yates

It’s not a comfortable book, but it is worth reading. This is the memoir of a “zek”, an inmate in a Soviet prison camp. Irina Ratushinskaya is a poet and human rights activist who ends up in the Small Zone, with a small group of other political prisoners. She is defiant, astute, funny, and infinitely courageous, as she details the survival techniques of the group, and the constant attempts of the KGB to break their spirits.
Madeline Moss
Jan 10, 2013 Madeline Moss rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"This is my first visit to the hospital of ZhKh-385/3. That's the official designation of our camp. What do the letters 'zh' and 'kh' stand for? Why, the Russian words for 'Railway Property'. That's because, officially, there are no concentration camps in the USSR! And the #385? Well, the authorities must keep count of the non-existent camps, mustn't they? Our camp was not the last on the Mordovian list." 199
Jul 27, 2011 Alwen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ratushinskaya and the relationship she forges between art, personal ethics, faith, and work for social justice affected me profoundly when I read her in high school. She is still one of my heroes, foundational for me in how I grew to view the world and believe in the possibility of beauty and hope even in the midst of profound horror.
Oct 10, 2007 Kate rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Dick Cheney
This is a very moving book about human courage in the face of the life-draining horrors of torture and abuse suffered by a prisoner of conscience. Eventually Ratushinskaya came to the US and taught at Northwestern University. Out of print now, but worth reading if you find it in a used book shop somewhere.
Maureen E
The autobiography of a Russian poet, who for her poetry was sent to a political prison inside a prison camp during the 1980s. This is a fascinating story which gives a real glimpse into the Soviet Union just before and during Gorbachev. Highly recommended for more mature readers.
Clare Savage
Dec 04, 2007 Clare Savage rated it it was amazing
I read this book in college and had to write a report about it. It was the first time I loved a book so much and wanted to write about it. It is an account of a political prisoner and her torture and hunger strikes while imprisoned in the former USSR.
Jan 20, 2013 Debra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's shameful that I was worrying over the next release from Duran Duran or A-Ha while Mrs. Ratushinskaya was in prison, starving for human rights. It's mind-blowing that a person could be so strong.
A most moving account of the poet's incarceration in Siberia for the crime of writing poetry. Irina Ratushinskaya's courage and determination not to be destroyed as a person shines through.
Jul 10, 2007 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who hate Russia and love poets
One of the corniest possible titles for a book, I know, but this is one of the more fascinating books I've read in the past few years. Like reading about Anne Frank, but so much better.
Aug 19, 2011 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An amazing account of political imprisonment and bravery.
Jun 17, 2012 Cumfy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly detailled account of political prisoner.
Mar 18, 2015 Staren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book also left very contradictory impressions. I tried my hardest to differentiate THAT Ирина Ратушинская from TODAY'S Ирина Ратушинская (who herself now became "крымнашистка"). It did not help me much in my overall impression about the book and the fate of its author. Yes, of course, it describes tragic and outrageous political imprisonment in the years of "Перестройка," which tells you a lot about the whole cannibalistic nature of the Soviet system in any period of its existence, not only ...more
Oct 15, 2012 Q marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I read this in the 1980's in book group; it has stayed with me. A woman poet's account of her time in a soviet camp as a political prisoner. It was rare then to hear the voice of a woman political prisoner. Her words of observation and personal experience create for us readers a strong picture. It is her Voice that carries the reader - the vivid images and observations of relationships and suffering. It is her voice - still alive - after all she has gone thru - that enriches each word of the boo ...more
poopdoggy ballsdotcom
this book is an amazing fucking representation of how women in prison overcome and have a party because being a woman already fucking sucks!

content warning for forced feeding and torture and abuse, but also HOLY SHIT THESE WOMEN ARE THE STRONGEST PEOPLE IVE EVER READ ABOUT AND this is my favorite book!

fuck prisons.
Amy Callahan
You would think this book MUST be depressing. The account of women imprisoned in Gulag era USSR. However, I found it oddly inspiring. The women support each other, share resources, and survive all difficulties. If you liked Animal Farm, this would be a great read to give you insights into Stalin era politics.
Mar 26, 2010 Victoria rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book made me more interested in the Russian gulags and prisons during Stalinism and leading up to the cold war. However, the writing is just really boring and I pretty much had to force myself to finish the book. I'm happy I read it because I did learn a lot of things, but it was a painful experience.
A very slow read, and not tops on my all-time-favorite-book list, but still amazing to think that what she writes is all true, and all happened during my lifetime.

Wrenching and inspiring poetry from a Christian woman imprisoned for her faith in a Communist gulag; World's top 100.
Sep 05, 2015 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant book to read when you are facing difficult circumstances yourself. Reminded me that things could be an awful lot worse, and that there are certain attitudes and values that enable the human spirit to survive and live well under almost any conditions.
Feb 22, 2010 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for a college class nearly 20 years ago. I continue to think about Irina Ratushinskaya's journey. There are few books like that for me.
Julie Mihevc
Sep 24, 2009 Julie Mihevc rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing. I read it 15 years ago. About women imprisoned in communist Russia. Their hope in the midst of extraordinary oppression inspires me.
Jan 11, 2013 Dawn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Just too depressing for me at this time, I have read plenty WWII survivors, just don't want to endure another one right now.
Nicolas Shump
Jan 10, 2009 Nicolas Shump rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A memoir of a woman who survived the Soviet Gulag in the late 70s and early 80s. Gracefully written and compelling.
Jan 03, 2011 Maggie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Complicated. I disagree with a number of her views but she tells and important and compelling story.
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500 Great Books B...: Grey Is the Color of Hope - Irina Ratushinskaya 1 3 Jul 14, 2014 09:39PM  
  • The Women's Decameron
  • The Blindfold's Eyes: My Journey from Torture to Truth
  • The Little School: Tales of Disappearance and Survival
  • Molotov's Magic Lantern: A Journey In Russian History
  • The Zone: A Prison Camp Guard's Story
  • The House by the Dvina: A Russian Childhood
  • Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro's Gulag
  • The Cavalry Maiden: Journals of a Russian Officer in the Napoleonic Wars
  • The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine
  • Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing, and Havana
  • Hope Against Hope
  • Journey into the Whirlwind
  • In God's Underground
  • Veiled Threat: The Hidden Power of the Women of Afghanistan
  • Afghanistan, Where God Only Comes To Weep
  • The Time: Night
  • Cannibal Island: Death in a Siberian Gulag
  • The Oak And The Calf: Sketches Of Literary Life In The Soviet Union
Irina Ratushinskaya was born in Odessa, Ukraine. Her father was Boris Leonidovich, an engineer, and her mother was Irina Valentinovna Ratushinsky, a teacher of Russian literature. Her mother's family originated from Poland, and her grandfather was deported to Siberia shortly after the January Uprising, a Polish uprising against forced conscription in the Russian Army in 1863.

Irina was educated at
More about Irina Ratushinskaya...

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