One Ordinary Day In One Extraordinary Life
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
Sometimes, no matter how many academic tomes you study, you can't imagine what the past was really like without reading a good novel. Author Monica Ali knows this. She recommends her favorite historical novel as part of our series You Must Read This, where authors talk about the book they love. It's "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
MONICA ALI: On the surface, this is a simple story simply told.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Ivan Denisovich went to sleep content. He'd been fortunate in many ways that day. He finished the bowl of porridge at dinner, and he hadn't fallen ill.
ALI: Like all the best books, it lingers with you. Look beneath the surface, and you will see how quietly and elegantly its author deals in subversion. "Ivan Denisovich" isn't just a book for students of history, it speaks to us all. Can a man who's warm understand one who's freezing? Ivan muses. That is what the Solzhenitsyn is driving at. It is the beginning of empathy, the beginning of morality, and it is something that the finest literature can achieve.
BLOCK: Monica Ali was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh and grew up in England. Her latest book is "Untold Story."
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