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Svetlana Alexievich

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Svetlana Alexievich, the 2015 Nobel laureate in literature, was born in 1948 in the Ukrainian town of Ivano-Frankivsk, the daughter of a Belarusian father and a Ukrainian mother. When the father had completed his military service, the family moved to Belarus. Alexievich worked as a teacher and a journalist, and studied journalism at the University of Minsk between 1967 and 1972. After her graduation she was referred to a local newspaper in Brest near the Polish border, because of her oppositional views. She later returned to Minsk and worked at the newspaper Sel’skaja Gazeta. For many years, she collected materials for her first book, U vojnyne ženskoe lico (1985; War’s Unwomanly Face, 1988), which is based on interviews with hundreds of women who participated in the Second World War. This work is the first in Alexievich’s grand cycle of books, “Voices of Utopia,” where life in the Soviet Union is depicted from the perspective of the individual. The cycle includes Černobyl’skaja molitva (1997; Voices from Chernobyl–Chronicle of the Future, 1999); Cinkovye mal’čiki (1990; Zinky Boys—Soviet Voices from a Forgotten War, 1992); and Vremja second chènd (2013; Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets, Penguin Random House, 2016).

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