2015 Nobel Prize for Literature Awarded to Belarusian Author Svetlana Alexievich

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Belarusian author Svetlana Alexievich, who wrote The Chernobyl Prayer, The War’s Unwomanly Face, Last Witness, and Zinky Boys, was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize for literature on Thursday, October 8, 2015. The Swedish Academy commended Alexievich “”for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.”

This is the first time that the Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to a Belarusian author. Belarus ranks #157 out of 180 countries in the 2015 Press Freedom Index from Reporters without Borders. Belarusian journalists contend with an authority that suppresses press freedom and freedom of expression, criminalizes libel to protect authorities from scrutiny, and exercises a monopoly over the release of all information concerning political, social, and economic affairs. Alexievich is an outspoken critic of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s authoritarian regime. She has said that the Belarusian authorities act as though she does not exist

In a 2005 speech to PEN International, Alexievich explained that she found her writing style when she recognized the importance of the spoken word in Slavic countries. “I began to understand that what I was hearing people say on the street and in the crowds was much more effectively capturing what was going on than what I was reading in print.” She calls her genre, “the novel of voices.”

Sampsonia Way is committed to giving voice to those who are denied the right to freedom of expression. In the spirit of our publication we commend Svetlana Alexievich for her work in giving voice to a “history of emotion” that would otherwise go untold.

About the Author

Sampsonia Way is an online magazine sponsored by City of Asylum/Pittsburgh that seeks to protect and advocate for writers who may be endangered, to educate the public about threats to writers and literary expression, and to create a community in which endangered writers thrive and literary culture is a valued part of life.

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