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Who is Svetlana Alexievich?

I stumbled upon her Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster at Shakespeare & Company in Paris. Svetlana Alexievich is the 2015 winner of the Nobel Prize in literature. She’s the 14th woman to win this prize—half of these wins have been in the past 25 years. Alexievich is a Belarusian who was born in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine. She is known for deeply researched works about female Russian soldiers in World War II and the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Ms. Alexievich’s works often blend literature and journalism. She is best known for giving voice to women and men who lived through major events like the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan that lasted from 1979 to 1989 and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986, in which her own sister was killed and her mother was blinded.

In an interview posted on the Dalkey Archive Press 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.”

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