Samuel Beckett once declined an interview because, he said, he had “no views to inter.” On the other hand, Svetlana Alexievich’s “The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II” is made up of conversations with women who have waited their entire lives to speak. This book is an outpouring, a deluge. Roughly a million Soviet women fought in World War II. Dozens of them, in this volume, gather around Alexievich as if she were a sentient campfire. For more detail about this book click here.
For more than three decades now, voice-recorder and notebook always to hand, the winner of last year's Nobel Prize in Literature, Svetlana Alexievich, has been rummaging through the debris of the Soviet world, capturing the voices of those who lived, suffered or prospered in the USSR and in the chaos that followed its disintegration. For the full review of her new book click here.
The awarding of this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature to Belarusian journalist and oral historian Svetlana Alexievich is gratifying for, among other things, its recognition of non-fiction as an integral and dynamic sibling to literature. But the Literature Nobel has gone to non-literary genres before. For example, it was given to the Classical Greek and Latin scholar Mommsen in 1902 (the second year of the Prize), peace-activist and philosopher Bertrand Russell in 1950 and, rather more unfortunately, to imperialist historian and biographer Winston Churchill in 1953. But these remain exceptions. Even within literature, the committee has had to soothe the competing claims of various genres — poetry, the novel, drama and the short story. For full story click here.
"Though Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich has been the recipient of multiple European book awards, her work has gone largely unrecognized in the United States. It’s probably due to the fact that she writes in Russian, and only four of her books have been translated into English." She uses oral history interviews for many of her stories. For full article click here.