Photo: Elke Wetzig/CC BY-SA 3.0

Svetlana Alexievich: In Search of Humanity

Issue 1907

26 June 2019

Svetlana Alexievich, a Belarusian investigative journalist and historian, received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2015. Her most important books are in fact not works of fiction, but the processing of hundreds of patiently collected testimonies of ordinary people: the testimony of women who served in the Great Patriotic War, the Second World War[1]; those who experienced the war in Afghanistan[2]; those who had been touched in one way or another by the nuclear catastrophe of Chernobyl in 1986[3]; those Soviet citizens, later Russians, who had been through Stalinism, de-Stalinization, the Brezhnevian Stagnation and, finally, the advent of democracy.[4]

Equipped with a tape recorder, Svetlana conducted lengthy, detailed interviews with witnesses she meets; she becomes their friend, confidante, a sympathetic ear. She was told what had sometimes never been told to anyone.

This article is reserved for paid subscribers. Please subscribe to continue reading this article
Subscribe