In response to:
Writing in the Shadow of the Monolith from the February 19, 1976 issue
To the Editors:
I’m surprised that Carl R. Proffer, who mentioned “the hunger for books” in the last paragraph of his excellent review of new Soviet writers [NYR, February 19], did not use his valuable editorial space to remind any of his readers who might be travelling to the USSR, or Eastern Europe, that the quickest way to make friends is to take in gifts of books. Scatter a few through your luggage. If they are discovered they may be confiscated, depending on their title and language. If not you have made a concrete contribution to the conversion of a few sub-paragraphs of the Helsinki agreement, into reality. If you doubt the severity of the book famine, consider the fact that a copy of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag now sells in Moscow for over seventy roubles—i.e., seventy dollars at the official exchange rate. Clearly we tourists have nothing to lose but a few books. The potential readers have everything to gain.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
July 15, 1976