Depicting the Gulag reality
My first book by a Russian author was Varlam Shalamov's "Kolyma Tales". Reading it, I wanted to get a little closer to the reality of the Soviet Gulag camps.
I didn't want to start with "The Gulag Archipelago" by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, whom I considered and still consider an author manipulated by the West.
In "Kolyma Tales", I found a raw and no-nonsense description of what it meant for thousands of people to be exiled in distant and inhospitable lands.
I was surprised by Shalamov's ability to tell this gruesome story without resorting to recriminations, endless criticism or self pity. He simply tries to show reality as it was, achieving in the process a short and entertaining read that you can get through in one sitting.