Belarusian Writer Svetlana Alexievich wins the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature

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Belarusian Writer Svetlana Alexievich wins the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature

Well, folks, John Grisham got screwed again!

Just kidding. What actually happened was that deserving Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature. She became the 14th woman to win the prize since it was introduced in 1901, and the first since Alice Munro two years ago. Here’s what the judges wrote about Alexievich, who authors oral histories that document the breakdown of the Soviet Union:

“For the past 30 or 40 years she’s been busy mapping the Soviet and post-Soviet individual. But it’s not really a history of events. It’s a history of emotions. What she’s offering us is really an emotional world. So these historical events that she’s covering in her various books – for example the Chernobyl disaster or the Soviet war in Afghanistan – are, in a way, just pretexts for exploring the soviet individual and the post soviet individual. She’s conducted thousands of interviews with children, women and men, and in this way she’s offering us a history of a human being about whom we didn’t know that much.”

They went on to praise her “polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.”

Alexievich, 67, is the author of books such as War’s Unwomanly Face, Zinky Boys: The Record of a Lost Soviet Generation, and Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster. She was born in the Ukraine, and covered Chernobyl, the war in Afghanistan, and much else in her career as a journalist. She was forced to leave Belarus in 2000 for political reasons, and was only allowed to return in 2011.

“It immediately evokes such great names as [Ivan] Bunin, [Boris] Pasternak,” Alexievich said, speaking of the prize. “On the one hand, it’s such a fantastic feeling, but it’s also a bit disturbing.”

She was ironing at home when she got the news, and said that the cash prize (around $1.2 million) would “buy her freedom” for her next books. You can read more about Alexievich here.

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