Svetlana Alexievich was announced as the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature for the year 2015, making her the 14th woman to have been conferred this honor since 1901. Alexievich has been lauded for bringing new dimensions to historical events by writing compelling narratives built with the help of witness records. Some of the events she has covered so far include those revolving around World War II, the fall of the Soviet Empire and its social aftermath, the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and the war of Soviet in Afghanistan. Her main focus has been to bring out the reality of the plight of the people who actually saw these events occurring and were affected by their repercussions. She has also been an outspoken critic of the authoritarian policies of President Alexander Lukashenko.
Her selection as winner did not come as a surprise. She had been one of the favorites for this year with other notable names including novelist Haruki Murakami (Japan), novelist Ngugi Wa Thiong’o (Kenya), novelist and playwright Jon Fosse (Norway) and writers Joyce Carol Oates and Philip Roth (America).
In conversation with The Associated Press Sara Danius, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy praised the writer’s work and said:
“She is offering us new and interesting historical material and she has developed a particular writing style, as well a new literary genre,”…. “She has said many times that ‘I’m not interested in events, the history of events, I’m interested in the history of emotions’ and that’s kept her busy for the past 40 years.”