Svetlana Alexievich and Arch Tait

Svetlana Alexievich was born in Ivano-Frankivsk in 1948 and has spent most of her life in the Soviet Union and present-day Belarus, with prolonged periods of exile in Western Europe. She started out as a journalist and developed her own non-fiction genre which brings together a chorus of voices to describe a specific historical moment.

She was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time’.


 Svetlana Alexievich

Chernobyl Prayer

Translated by
Anna Gunin  & Arch Tait

Penguin Modern Classics, 2016
Paperback, £9.99 ISBN 978-0-241-27053-0

294 pages


Chernobyl Prayer (1997) features a series of monologues by people who were affected by the Chernobyl disaster. 

“It may be poisoned with radiation, but this is my home Even a bird loves its nest.”
Svetlana Alexievich 

“A collage of oral testimony that turns into the psychobiography of a nation not shown on any map The book leaves radiation burns on the brain.”
Julian Barnes, Guardian 

“A searing mix of eloquence and wordlessness From her intervieweesmonologues she creates history that the reader, at whatever distance from the events, can actually touch.”
Julian Evans, Daily Telegraph 

“Alexievich serves no ideology, only an ideal: to listen closely enough to the ordinary voices of her time to orchestrate them into extraordinary books.”
Philip Gourevitch, New Yorker.

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