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Svetlana Alexievich Wins Nobel Prize in Literature via The New York Times

Svetlana Alexievich, a Belarussian journalist and prose writer, won the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time,” the Swedish Academy announced.

Ms. Alexievich, 67, is the 14th woman to win the literature prize. Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, said she had created “a history of emotions — a history of the soul, if you wish.”

Ms. Alexievich’s works often blend literature and journalism. She is best known for giving voice to women and men who lived through World War II, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan that lasted from 1979 to 1989, and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986.

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In the United States, Ms. Alexievich is best known for the oral history “Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster” which was translated by the writer Keith Gessen and published in 2005 by Dalkey Archive Press. The book, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, is a compilation of interviews with survivors of the nuclear reactor accident. She spent 10 years visiting the Chernobyl zone, and conducted more than 500 interviews.

In an interview posted on the press’s website, Ms. Alexievich said her technique of blending journalism and literature was inspired by the Russian tradition of oral storytelling. “I decided to collect the voices from the street, the material lying about around me,” she said. “Each person offers a text of his or her own.”

[…]

Born to a Belarussian father and a Ukrainian mother, in what is now Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, she studied journalism, and after graduation, she began work at a newspaper in Brest, near the Polish border.

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