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.
may be poisoned with radiation, but this is my home
…Even a bird loves its nest.”
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.”
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.”
serves no ideology, only an ideal:
to listen closely enough to the ordinary voices of her time
to orchestrate them into extraordinary books.”
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