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Svetlana Alexievich – Winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature

Haven’t heard of her either? At least this year, there might be a reason for it. Unusually, the winner is a writer of mostly non-fiction. Belarusian journalist Svetlana Alexievich has documented the life stories of suffering in the Second World War, during and in the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster and the Soviet War in Afghanistan. Her books are based on interviews with thousands of people who have lived through these events as explained by Alexievich herself:

I’ve been searching for a literary method that would allow the closest possible approximation to real life. Reality has always attracted me like a magnet, it tortured and hypnotised me, I wanted to capture it on paper. So I immediately appropriated this genre of actual human voices and confessions, witness evidences and documents. This is how I hear and see the world – as a chorus of individual voices and a collage of everyday details. This is how my eye and ear function. In this way all my mental and emotional potential is realised to the full. In this way I can be simultaneously a writer, reporter, sociologist, psychologist and preacher.’

I haven’t read her but her thoughtful comments about her own writing makes me curious and, when I build up courage (this will be tough reading!), I will have a go!


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