Nobel Prize laureate Svetlana Alexievich: ′I am a human ear′ | Books | DW | 08.12.2015
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Nobel Prize laureate Svetlana Alexievich: 'I am a human ear'

Svetlana Alexievich, who will receive the Nobel Prize for Literature on December 10, provided insight on her work in a lecture. She listens to the people - and boldly criticizes the authorities of Belarus and Russia.

While French author Gustave Flaubert "called himself a human pen; I would say that I am a human ear," said Svetlana Alexievich in her Nobel lecture held on Monday (07.12.2015).

The words she hears on the streets represent for her so many potential novels: "I love the lone human voice. It is my greatest love and passion."

In her talk, the 67-year-old laureate also brought up childhood memories of how she used to listen to women who had lost their husbands, brothers or fathers during World War II, and she would register their longing and mourning.

Chronicles of the Soviet Union and Belarus

These early impressions would later lead the Belarusian author and investigative journalist to cover major events affecting the area, such as the Soviet-Afghan War (in the book "Zinky Boys"), the fall of the Soviet Union and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

In her works, she gathers interviews from different people. "There are truths in many lives, many hearts - it is scattered."

In selecting her to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Swedish Academy praised "her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time."

Critical voice against Putin

Alexievich has also boldly criticized the authoritarian leaders of Belarus and Russian President Vladimir Putin throughout her career. In her lecture, she condemned the Russians attacking the Ukrainians, "their brothers."

She also reflected on the chance the people lost in the 1990s following the disintegration of the Soviet Union. "A time full of hope has been replaced by a time of fear. The era has turned around and headed back in time," she said, in Russian.

The award, which comes with a cash prize of eight million Swedish crowns (about 864,000 euros, $940,000), will be handed out to Alexievich at a ceremony in Stockholm held on Thursday, December 10.

Belarusian authorities announced that public television and radio stations will not be broadcasting the live ceremony. According to AFP, an independent TV channel from Poland will, however, be showing the event in Belarus, and it will also be available online.

eg/kbm (dpa, AFP)

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