Book Group - Cancer Ward discussion thread
8:46pm, 23 Mar 2017
McGoohanIf you are a-reading Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhinexjwiuhjk... then you may wish to share your thoughts below.
G'wan, g'wan, g'wan.
8:44am, 30 Mar 2017
Little NemoI'm liking it so far despite its grim subject matter
7:34am, 3 Apr 2017
westmoorsQuite enjoyed this. It wasn't as depressing as I thought it was going to be.
As with other Russian novels, I struggled with all the names.
9:29pm, 19 Apr 2017
mascott514just ordered it, looking forward to it
5:02pm, 20 Apr 2017
SerendippilySeveral stand out moments - the loss of Ayshas breast - the speech by the chappie who had gone along with everything - Vera as a patient. Once I got into it it flowed like a swift river and I loved it, names and diminutives notwithstanding
5:18pm, 26 Apr 2017
Little NemoI enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I was going to. It was quite easy to read and the only difficulty I had was keeping track of all the names and telling some of the minor characters apart.
I did find some of it scary - the cancer treatments seemed v. primitive but this was due to the time more than the location I'm guessing. I found it really sad that people weren't given their diagnoses - they were discharging people to die and those people had no idea. And it seemed as though by using x-rays to treat things that weren't cancer they were giving people cancer years afterwards
I really disliked the Rusanov character. I'll never understand people who'll denounce others just to get more room in their apartment! I can understand that you could be under pressure to shop people but you don't have to volunteer innocents.
5:22pm, 26 Apr 2017
Little NemoForgot to say I gave this book an 8
5:45pm, 26 Apr 2017
BadgerI think opening with Rusanov's viewpoint, then moving away to the others as his nastier features are revealed, deliberately parallels the revelation of weaknesses in the treatment system, over and above it not being very smart-looking. His POV shows the place being run-down and scruffy, but they are careful about hygiene when the patients are admitted. It only gradually emerges that side effects are damaging the health of both the patients and the medics. Though the difference in the parallel is that there are no patients who are pro the political system and likeable and efficient, but there are plenty of medics who are likable and efficient (though they wouldn't necessarily run things the way they currently are - Lev's thoughts about the surgeons he has been landed with because of the arbitrary decisions of the hospital director make that amply clear!)
Yes, it's set in the time when they were just starting to realise side effects and long-term effects of treatments for diseases they had no treatment for previously and hadn't been careful enough with. In some ways this is still going on - it's something that is looked out for, but the permitted dose to the eyes is going to be reduced in the near future, based on evidence from firefighters at Chernobyl. We are careful, but we are not always careful enough.
This isn't my review, just a comment on LN's comments
5:52pm, 26 Apr 2017
Little NemoOh yes Badger, I'm sure that when society looks back in 50 years time the way we treat cancer now will seem primitive as well!
BTW, thanks for choosing this book I always meant to read an AS book but I had always thought that they would be hard going. He actually writes in a v. readable style and some bits were beautiful, especially the apricot trees.
9:05pm, 1 May 2017
BadgerThis and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich are not hard going, though both have a lot to think about, of course. I've started The Gulag Archipelago a couple of times and never got very far into it. Maybe next time. TGA would have been completely unreasonable for the Fetch book club, but I thought this was reasonable - with hindsight, though, it's longer than I'd remembered. One Day is considerably shorter.
I was pretty young when I read it first, and wasn't sure whether I'd feel I'd missed everything, or that it was much less impressive than I'd thought at the time. Well, I think there were a lot of parallels that I'd missed first time round but saw this time, with a more seasoned eye (see my previous post). I laughed at "on his postal trips, Oleg used to strengthen Tobik's ideological loyalty with some material incentive", which got past me completely last time. I agree with Seren's stand-out points, and I also picked up Rusanov's daughter's argument with the ward, which was like something out of 1984 or Animal Farm - "But when everyone starts talking the new way all at once, you don't notice there's been a transition at all". Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia. And she is arguing this as the way society should operate - the official philosophy changes, and if you don't change on the spot, you're probably a traitor and you'll definitely be an outcast.
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