Voices from Chernobyl

The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

Svetlana Alexievich; Translated by Keith Gessen

Picador

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Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

On April 26, 1986, the worst nuclear reactor accident in history occurred in Chernobyl and contaminated as much as three quarters of Europe. Voices from Chernobyl is the first book to present personal accounts of the tragedy. Journalist Svetlana Alexievich interviewed hundreds of people affected by the meltdown---from innocent citizens to firefighters to those called in to clean up the disaster---and their stories reveal the fear, anger, and uncertainty with which they still live. Comprised of interviews in monologue form, Voices from Chernobyl is a crucially important work, unforgettable in its emotional power and honesty.

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Book Excerpts

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Chapter One
 
Monologue about what can be talked about with the living and the dead
 
The wolf came into the yard at night. I look out the window and there he is, eyes shining like headlights. Now I’m used to everything. I’ve been living alone for seven years, seven years since the people left. Sometimes at night I’ll just be sitting here thinking, thinking, until it’s lights out again. So on this day I was up all night, sitting on my bed, and then I went out to look at how the sun was. What should I tell you? Death is more just than anything else in the world: no one can

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Reviews

Praise for Voices from Chernobyl

"This collection of narratives about the world's worst industrial accident reads like an apocalyptic fairy tale. . . . The monologues . . . are exquisite in their plainspoken anguish. And as such, they are beautifully unbearable to read."--Time Out Chicago

"A chorus of fatalism, stoic bravery, and black, black humor is sounded in this haunting oral history. . . . The result is an indelible X-ray of the Russian soul."--Publishers Weekly

"Shocking accounts of life in a poisoned world. And what quintessentially human stories these are, as each distinct voice expresses anger, fear, ignorance, stoicism, valor, compassion, and love. Alexievich put her own health at risk to gather these invaluable frontline testimonies, which she has transmuted into a haunting and essential work of literature that one can only hope documents a never-to-be-repeated catastrophe."--Booklist (starred review)

"Devastating . . . Essential, powerful, and brave."--John Freeman, The Star-Ledger (Newark)

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About the Author

Svetlana Alexievich; Translated by Keith Gessen

Svetlana Alexievich was born in the Ukraine and studied journalism at the University of Minsk. She has received numerous awards for her writing, including a prize from the Swedish PEN Institute for "courage and dignity as a writer."

Svetlana Alexievich

© Svetlana Alexievich
Svetlana Alexievich

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Available Formats and Book Details

Voices from Chernobyl
The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster
Svetlana Alexievich; Translated by Keith Gessen

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Picador
April 2006
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312425845
ISBN10: 0312425848
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 256 pages
$16.00
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