Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

As I have already written in the “About” page at the very beginning…

“When I was twelve years old, and at school in London, England, I wrote a rather mediocre poem about an armadillo that was published in our school magazine. Emboldened, I entered my poem in the local poetry competition, coveting first prize – a magnificent set of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

“I was most fortunate – and quite undeserving – to win the third prize. My third place consolation prize was a newly published hardback copy of The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.”

Reluctantly click here, to read Karim’s ‘rather mediocre poem about an armadillo’ that was published in his school magazine.

When you connect the dots decades later, you learn something about the power of great writers that gives you pause. We all have these lessons tucked away somewhere. Here is mine: I do not think that I would have been as willing to explore the related works of Vaclav Havel, or Boris Pasternak, or Czesław Milosz, had I not read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn at an early age. And I probably would not have been as interested to travel to post-communist Lithuania in the middle of a very cold winter, to teach at a high school there. My literary and cultural heritage, as an Indian born in Kenya, was “post-colonial” and not “post-communist”. Books can do that. They can make you travel and explore within your mind. Before you know it, you are then physically traveling to learn and explore further.

— Karim