Svetlana Alexievich is the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature

The 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to the Belarusian Svetlana Alexievich on the 8th of October.

Svetlana Alexievich has been awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature by the Swedish Academy “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time”. The Belarusian writer and journalist is known for books that weave hundreds of real life testimonies together.


Alexievich was born in Ukraine in 1948 from a Belarusian father and a Ukrainian mother. She published her first book in 1985, War’s Unwomanly Face, based on interviews of hundreds of women who had participated in the Second World War. Only two other of her books have been published in English. Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from a Forgotten War (1992), on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan between 1979 and 89; and Voices from Chernobyl (1999 and 2005), on the consequences of the nuclear disaster.


The writer is considered an opposition figure to the authoritarian regime of Alexander Lukashenko, who has been President of Belarus since 1994. For many years she has in fact been forced to live in exile and her books are banned in her country. Alexievich reacted to the announcement of the award by saying that the prize of 8 million Swedish Krona (almost $1 million) will “buy her freedom” to work on her future projects.


Alexievich in the 112th person and 14th woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature since its inauguration in 1901. The Nobel Prizes were borne from an idea of the Swede Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, who left most of his fortune to the founding of “prizes to those who have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind”. Five years later the first Nobel Prizes were assigned, and have since been chosen annually by the Norwegian Nobel Committee and, in the case of the prize for literature, the Swedish Academy.



Amongst the Nobel Laureates in Literature are notables such as Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck and Gabriel García Márquez. The French Patrick Modiano was conferred the award in 2014 “for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies”: for example, in his 1997 book Dora Bruder Modiano investigates the story of a Jewish girl who disappeared in the early forties during the German occupation of Paris, in France.

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