[ RadSafe ] New book: Voices fromChernobyl, by Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich

Roger Helbig rwhelbig at gmail.com
Sun Apr 17 20:34:42 CDT 2016

New book: Voices fromChernobyl, by Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich

by Christina MacPherson

Chernobyl and the ghosts of a nuclear past A Nobel laureate captures
the beginning of the “age of disasters”. New Statesman, BY LUCY
HUGHES-HALLETT     17 Apr 16

THis is not a book on Chernobyl,” writes Svetlana Alexievich, “but on
the world of Chernobyl.” It is not about what happened on 26 April
1986, when a nuclear reactor exploded near the border between Ukraine
and Belarus. It is about an epoch that will last, like the radioactive
material inside the reactor’s leaking ruin, for tens of thousands of
years. Alexievich writes that, before the accident, “War was the
yardstick of horror”, but at Chernobyl “the history of dis­asters
began”.Alexievich, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature last year for
her powerful works of oral history, was born in Ukraine and grew up in
Belarus. The explosion took place close to her home ground. At once,
people began to ask her whether she was writing about it. Others
rushed out books of reportage or polemic. She hesitated. What had
happened was uncanny, beyond words. There was, she writes, “a moment
of muteness”.

Gradually, over many years, she interviewed people whose lives had
been affected by the blast. Many have since died. Her book – first
published in Russian in 1997 and now issued in a new translation of a
revised text – is made up of their testimonies. Her own voice is heard
only briefly. Even the prefatory summary of events is a patchwork of
extracts from news reports.........

Since Chernobyl, there has been Fuku­shima. Neither site has yet been
made safe: it seems unlikely they ever will be. We are living in
Alexievich’s “age of disasters”. This haunting book offers us at least
some ways of thinking about that predicament.

Svetlana Alexievich will be in conversation with James Meek in
Cambridge on 31 May. Details: cambridgeliteraryfestival.com

Christina MacPherson | April 18, 2016 at 1:09 am | Categories:
resources - print | URL: http://wp.me/phgse-naN


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