Svetlana Alexandrovna Alexievich (also transliterated as Aleksievich or Aleksiyevich; born 31 May 1948, Stanislaviv, Ukrainian SSR) is a Belarusian investigative journalist and non-fiction prose writer, writing in Russian. She was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time". She is the first writer
Svetlana Alexandrovna Alexievich (also transliterated as Aleksievich or Aleksiyevich; born 31 May 1948, Stanislaviv, Ukrainian SSR) is a Belarusian investigative journalist and non-fiction prose writer, writing in Russian. She was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time". She is the first writer from Belarus to receive the award.
Born in the west Ukrainian town of Stanislaviv (since 1962 Ivano-Frankivsk) to a Belarusian father and a Ukrainian mother, Alexievich grew up in Belarus. After finishing school she worked as a reporter in several local newspapers before graduating from Belarusian State University (1972) and becoming a correspondent for the literary magazine Neman in Minsk (1976). She went on to a career in journalism and writing narratives from interviews with witnesses to the most dramatic events in the country, such as World War II, the Soviet–Afghan War, the fall of the Soviet Union, and the Chernobyl disaster. After political persecution by the Lukashenko administration, she left Belarus in 2000. The International Cities of Refuge Network offered her sanctuary and during the following decade she lived in Paris, Gothenburg and Berlin. In 2011, Alexievich moved back to Minsk.
Her books are described as a literary chronicle of the emotional history of the Soviet and post-Soviet individual, as told by means of a carefully constructed collage of interviews. According to Russian writer and critic Dmitry Bykov, her books owe much to the ideas of Belarusian writer Ales Adamovich, who felt that the best way to describe the horrors of the 20th century was not by creating fiction but through recording the testimonies of witnesses. Belarusian poet Uladzimir Nyaklyayew called Adamovich "her literary godfather". He also named the documentary novel I'm from the Burned Village (Belarusian: Я з вогненнай вёскі) by Ales Adamovich, Janka Bryl and Uladzimir Kalesnik, about the villages burned by the Nazi troops during the occupation of Belarus, as the main single book that has influenced Alexievich's attitude to literature. Alexievich admitted the influence of Adamovich and added, among others, Belarusian writer Vasil Bykaŭ as another source of impact on her. Her most notable works in English translation include a collection of first-hand accounts from the war in Afghanistan (Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from a Forgotten War) and a highly praised oral history of the Chernobyl disaster (Voices from Chernobyl). Her first book, War's Unwomanly Face, came out in 1985. It was repeatedly reprinted and sold more than two million copies. The book was finished in 1983 and published (in short edition) in Oktyabr, a Soviet monthly literary magazine, in February 1984. In 1985, the book was published by several publishers, and the number of printed copies reached 2,000,000 in the next five years. This novel is made up of monologues of women in the war speaking about the aspects of World War II that had never been related before. Another book, The Last Witnesses: the Book of Unchildlike Stories, describes personal memories of children during war time. The war seen through women's and children's eyes revealed a new world of feelings. In 1993, she published Enchanted with Death, a book about attempted and completed suicides due to the downfall of the Soviet Union. Many people felt inseparable from the Communist ideology and unable to accept the new order surely and the newly interpreted history. Her books were not published by Belarusian state-owned publishing houses after 1993, while private publishers in Belarus have only published two of her books: Voices from Chernobyl in 1999 and Second-hand Time in 2013, both translated into Belarusian. As a result, Alexievich has been better known in the rest of world than in Belarus. She has been described as the first journalist to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.