Academic journal article International Journal of Communication Research

Svetlana Aleksievici: Journalism Metamorphosed in Literature

Academic journal article International Journal of Communication Research

Svetlana Aleksievici: Journalism Metamorphosed in Literature

Article excerpt

Svetlana Aleksievici, the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature from the post-soviet space, is a Belarusian author of Russian language, the lingua franca of the Soviet Empire, following the footsteps of Ivan Bounin (1933), Boris Pasternak (1958), Mihail Şolohov (1965), Aleksandr Soljeniţîn (1970) and Iosif Brodsky (1987), who also came from the same Russian-speaking space.

Svetlana Aleksievici was born 1948 in Sveatoslav (Ivano-Frankivsk today) in the West of Ukraine (part of the Soviet Union at that time). Her father was Belarusian and her mother Ukrainian and they were both teachers. Svetlana studies journalism in Belarus. Extremely critical of the dictatorship of Alexandru Lukaşenko, who has been in charge of the country for more than twenty years, she was persecuted by the Minsk administration and she left the country in 2000, as a sign of protest towards Lukaşenko's regime and also in order to fully dedicate herself to writing. She self-exiled herself in the following decade in Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Spain and Sweden. "After that I came back home, because I never ran out of the country" said the writer who returned to Minsk in 2011, after her exile in Europe, hoping that the Nobel Prize will offer her some sort of protection and freedom of expression at home as well.

Svetlana Aleksievici started with a career in journalism, being specialized in investigation interviews with witnesses of World War II, the Afghanistan War, and the fall of the Soviet Union or the Chernobyl disaster. These catastrophic events of the Soviet era became the main topics of her books. Her first book "The War does not have the face of a woman" (1985), which encompasses the memories of the Soviet army in World War II, goes beyond the Soviet mythological framework of the time, and it is blamed by the local power as "antipatriotic, naturalist and degrading." Breaking with the heroic epos of the war, the book presents the truth about the war's lack of human face and due to M. S. Gorbaciov's support (who used the title of the book in one of his official speeches) it is sold in millions of copies and subsequently appears on the big screens. Over 1 million women aged 15-30 took part in the war, from all the military professions. In their memories they do not refer to the front of heroic deeds. Unlike men, they speak about how difficult it is to kill or to walk on a field full of dead bodies. And after the war women had to forget about their military cards and wounds, they had to learn to smile once again, wear high heels and to get married. On the other hand, men forgot about their companions on the front, betrayed them, mastered the victory and never shared it with them.

"The war trilogy" which also includes "The last witnesses" evokes the war from the point of view of those who during the war were only children aged 7-12. "The zinc boys" (1990, the last part of the trilogy) represents a series of testimonials from the Soviet soldiers who fought in Afghanistan (a place where Svetlana Aleksievici also came as a journalist), is a book about a war hidden from its own people, which was confessed only by the zinc coffins brought from an unknown war. The author presents the images of a different kind of war, which we will later see in Yugoslavia, Chechnya and the Nagorno-Karabakh. The book triggers a new scandal followed by a law-suit and recognition at European level. Svetlana Aleksievici was often asked why she has so many books about war. It is because, as she herself claims, Russia has never had another history, the entire Soviet history being a military one: heroes, ideals, life representations - all are related to the war. Her subsequent books also triggered passionate debates, being regarded as "high treason" by the authorities.

In her country, Svetlana Aleksievici has only published two books until she was awarded the Nobel Prize: "The Chernobyl disaster. Testimonials from the survivors" in 1999 and "Second-hand Time" in 2013. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.