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The Zone: A Prison Camp Guard's Story

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,420 ratings  ·  48 reviews
The Zone is a satirical novelization of Dovlatov’s time as a prison guard for the Soviet Army in the early 1960s. Snapshots of the prison are juxtaposed with the narrator’s letters to Igor Markovich of Hermitage Press in which he urges Igor to publish the very book we’re reading. As Igor receives portions of the prison camp manuscript, so too does the reader.
Arguably Dovla
Hardcover, 177 pages
Published September 12th 1985 by Knopf (first published January 1st 1982)
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4.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,420 ratings  ·  48 reviews

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Miloš Kostić
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kaže, jedini roman o logoru koji se bavi čuvarima. Naravno, ima i zatvorenika, ali je granica između njih veoma tanka. Stražari se, na primer, plaše da prođu kroz zonu. Jedan od zatvorenika pita čuvara: ko je ovde zatvorenik, ja ili ti? Čak su isto i izgledali, svi izmrcvareni i u sličnim dronjcima. Svi su surovi, i jedni i drugi. Surovo je i okruženje, u njemu samo najjači opstaju. Bez ulepšavanja, težak život, teški ljudi. Ljudi koji su se toliko navikli na zatvor da ne žele da izađu. Logoraši ...more
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Biju aizmirsis atzīmēt. Nav tā smieklīgākā Dovlatova grāmata, jo ainiņas iz īpaši smago noziegumu lēģera sarga dzīves ir izvēlētas ne humora vai trakuma vārdā, bet domas ilustrēšanai, taču tās nereti vienalga ir gana smieklīgas un trakas.
Apr 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: russia

"I did not lure my readers on with promises of thrills and strange sights. I would have preferred to lead them up to a mirror."

I'm not sure how to evaluate this one. It's common to experience hardship in writing a book, but these Soviet writers like Dovlatov who had to smuggle their manuscripts out of the country, in Dovlatov's case only managing to reconstitute about 30% of the original, might deserve their own category. How do I know this about Dovlatov? Am I the owner of a comprehensive encyc
Feb 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels, read-in-2012
I'm not sure how I arrived at ordering this book but the library says it's in, so I'll go and pick it up. I thought a goodreader must have recommended it but I see none of my GR friends have read it. Myabe it was another book by him (most likely a short story collection), but the library only had this one..

excellent - review later (I hope...)

I detected a striking similarity between the camp and the outside, between the prisoners and the guards, bet
Lula Mae
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gallina de piel.
Mar 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The guard narrator drops in on Security Officer Bortashevich, intending to ask what kind of trouble is reputedly brewing in one of the prisoner barracks.

“Gud ivning,” Bortashevich said, “good thing you showed up. I’m wrestling with a philosophical question -- why do we drink? Let’s suppose, as they said earlier, it’s a vestige of capitalism in the mind of the people, a shadow of the past...And, mainly -- the influence fo the West. Even though we really let ourselves go in the East. But that’s al
Jun 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia, fiction
We have read fiction by prisoners in the Soviet Gulag system, such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn's A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich or Varlam Shalamov's Kolyma Tales. Now, with Sergei Dovlatov's The Zone, we have a novel about the lives of Soviet Army guards in the 1960s -- written by a man who worked as one himself -- but among criminal rather than political prisoners.

Dovlatov's wry humor informs this set of short stories, which are interspersed by letters from the author to Igor Markovich Yef
Ibrahim Niftiyev
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Əsərin ilk yarısı heç xoşuma gəlməmişdi, amma ikinci hissəsi və əsasən də sonları möhtəşəm idi. "Zona"da Dovlatovun şəxsi həyatından olan elementlər (ifrat içmək, ailə dramı, karyeradakı uğursuzluqlar və s.) və motivlər azdır. Bəlkə də məhz bu yadlıq mənə qəribə gəldi. Əlqərəz, yazıçının bu fikirləri ləzzət elədi:
- mən öz fikirlərimin şagirdi olmaq istəyirəm;
- məni həyat maraqlandırır, zona yox; məni insanlar maraqlandırır, bədheybətlər yox.
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Potser no m'ha agradat tant com altres llibres d'ell per l'estructura caòtica i fragmentada però hi segueixo trobant reflexions que em fan caure de cul a terra. I l'episodi de l'obra de teatre patriòtica a 'La zona' amb els presoners fent de Lenin i companyia m'ha fet pixar de riure com poques coses que he llegit.
Поглед са друге стране жице. Нисам дала оцену само из разлога што су приче толико јединствене да немам са чим да упоредим. Вредно читања у сваком погледу.
Dmitry Klekovkin
Sep 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Самое угрюмое произведение Довлатова. Ни один персонаж произведения не вызывает симпатию, мало того, не запоминается. Читать его периодически сложно, особенно, когда действующие лица переходят на фени. В этих историях нет положительных героев, все они с гнильцой. Казалось бы, в исправительных учреждениях надзиратели должны наставлять ЗЭКа на путь праведный. Но судя по Довлатову все происходит наоборот. Но все же читать было интересно, хоть и осадочек остался. Тут плакать надо, а не смеяться.
Michel Maas
May 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This quote sums it all up:
“The world in which I found myself was horrible. Nevertheless, I smiled no less frequently than I do now, and was not sad more often."
This is a rather hard-to-read but insightful exploration of the life in a Soviet prison camp. This was the first of Dovlatov's books that I picked up but I wouldn't recommend to start with it because it might give one a rather wrong impression of his work. Yes, he is often doom and gloom but in a much more funny way than this particular book.
Alex Tumanoff
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Очень неясная для меня книга. В начале я хотел бросить её чтение. После прочтения "Чемодана" ожидаешь немного другого. Однако, через какое-то время я втянулся и понял, что закончить конечно же надо. Не уверен, что это надо сделать каждому. Вы сами это поймете в процессе погружения в эту реальность.
Aug 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jul 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Новеллы хороши, письма издателю - ещё лучше
Adam  McPhee
Nov 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: russia, short-stories
The names, events and dates given here are all real. I invented only those details that were not essential.

Therefore, any resemblance between the characters in this book and living people is intentional and malicious. And all the fictionalizing was unexpected and accidental.
- The Author

One of the prisoners is a model prisoner, a pilot caught smuggling caviar and stealing parachutes. He subscribes to a prison magazine called 'Towards an Early Release'. His old colleagues fly a route near the pri
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Dovlatov's The Suitcase was a major highlight of my recent reading. I see it as the most perfect novel - conceptually brilliant, deft in execution - about exile. He finds some extraordinary poetry in the quotidian, and his dry humor balances hurt and quiet joy brilliantly. He is wise, funny, and deadpan. The Zone is not a work of quite that magnitude, though has clearly been gifted unto us by the same master. It is extremely fragmented (which is not a problem, after all being part of the point) ...more
Marat M. Yavrumyan
May 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Վերջն է՝ ինչպես Դովլաթովի մյուս բոլոր ստեղծագործությունները։ Այնքան սուր ու դիպուկ են իրավիճակի նկարագրությունները, Դովլաթովին բնորոշ ցինիզմի ու հումորը ընկալումով, որ ծիծաղը երբեմն խեղդում է։ Դովլաթով կարդալ պետք է միանշանակ ու շա՛տ։
Arno Mosikyan
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Человек человеку... как бы это получше выразиться - табула раса. Иначе говоря - все, что угодно. В зависимости от стечения обстоятельств.

Человек способен на все - дурное и хорошее. Мне грустно, что это так.

Поэтому дай нам Бог стойкости и мужества. А еще лучше - обстоятельств времени и места, располагающих к добру...

Мы без конца проклинаем товарища Сталина, и, разумеется, за дело. И все же я хочу спросить - кто написал четыре миллиона доносов? {Эта цифра фигурировала в закрытых партийных документ
Oct 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Книга хорошая, но местами слишком правдивая и трагичная, собственно, как и наша жизнь. Но порой необходимо читать что-то светлее, чем реальность, что-то идеалистическое. Здесь же все очень "в лоб", хотя и очень метко, порой по-своему красиво и романтично!

Книга очень простая, душевная. Как пишет сам Довлатов, - зона толком ничем не отличается от существования за границами решётки. Зеки - это те же люди с влюбленностями, спорами, подвигами.
Понимаешь, что у вида человеческого в любых условиях, ком
Guy Salvidge
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
My first Dovlatov and it won't be the last. Unfortunately, there only seems to be three of his books in print in English - this, The Suitcase and Pushkin Hills. Anyway, The Zone is a fragmentary narrative or collection of stories based on the author's time as a prison camp guard in Soviet Russia in the 60s. This is very much reminiscent of Shalamov's Kolyma Stories, except told from the other side of the fence. Dovlatov's thesis is that there isn't much difference between inmate and guard and th ...more
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Prosa de calidad y contenido de altura. Muy recomendable.
Heather Mcewan-Nugent
Dec 12, 2017 rated it did not like it
totally struggled with reading this book - still looking for the humour that it assured me on the back cover. Would not recommend to anyone.
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Russian books about prisons are good reads. I’ve read Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, and now Dovlatov on this topic - perhaps I’ll try Solzhenitsyn now.
Maria Llig
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mira que ets misogin, Dovlatov.
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Un dels llibres que m’ha fet reflexionar més, darrere histories simples s’anaguen un d’idees i pensaments. Dovlatov ja ha passat a ser el meu autor de referencia.
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My second Dovlatov. I enjoyed it. Sharp, satirical, bleak. Poetic. Fave line:" After they had tied me up with telephone wire, I calmed down."
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Te deja absolutamente rota.
Martins Slisans
So, so...
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SERGEI DOVLATOV (Russian: Сергей Довлатов) was born in Ufa, Bashkiria (U.S.S.R.), in 1941. He dropped out of the University of Leningrad after two years and was drafted into the army, serving as a guard in high-security prison camps. In 1965 he began to work as a journalist, first in Leningrad and then in Tallinn, Estonia. After a period of intense harassment by the authorities, he emigrated to th ...more
“The world was horrible. But life continued. What is more, life’s usual proportions stayed the same. The ratio of good and evil, grief and happiness, remained unchanged.” 3 likes
“The world in which I found myself was horrifying. In that world, people fought with sharpened rasp files, ate dogs, covered their faces with tattoos and sodomized goats. In that world, people killed for a package of tea.” 2 likes
More quotes…