Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Svetlana Alexievich, Nobel Laureate of Russian Misery, Has an English-Language Milestone
GOTHENBURG, Sweden — The Belarussian writer Svetlana Alexievich said she had spent her life asking one big — and very Russian — question: Why doesn’t people’s suffering translate into freedom? It’s a question that lies at the heart of her five encyclopedic volumes of oral history of postwar Russia. When she won the Nobel Prize in Literature last year, those books were barely known in the English-speaking world.
That is now starting to change. Next week, Random House is releasing “Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets,” her 2013 oral history of post-Soviet Russia, in English translation for the first time, to be followed by two more of her books by 2018. Already hailed as a masterpiece across Europe, “Secondhand Time” is an intimate portrait of a country yearning for meaning after the sudden lurch from Communism to capitalism in the 1990s plunged it into existential crisis.