Svetlana Alexievich was born in Ivano-Frankivsk in 1948 and has spent most of her life in the Soviet Union and present-day Belarus, with prolonged periods of exile in Western Europe. She started out as a journalist and developed her own non-fiction genre which brings together a chorus of voices to describe a specific historical moment.
She was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature ‘for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time’.
Translated by Anna Gunin & Arch Tait
Penguin Modern Classics, 2016
Paperback, £9.99 ISBN 978-0-241-27053-0
Chernobyl Prayer (1997) features a series of monologues by people who were affected by the Chernobyl disaster.
“It may be poisoned with radiation, but this is my home …Even a bird loves its nest.”
“A collage of oral testimony that turns into the psychobiography of a nation not shown on any map … The book leaves radiation burns on the brain.”
“A searing mix of eloquence and wordlessness … From her interviewees’ monologues she creates history that the reader, at whatever distance from the events, can actually touch.”
“Alexievich serves no ideology, only an ideal: to listen closely enough to the ordinary voices of her time to orchestrate them into extraordinary books.”
Back to HOME