Svetlana Aleksievich is no need to provide detail. For it is said of her book: "War has no female face", "Zinc boys", "Chernobyl prayer", "The last witness", "Charmed death", "Time of second hand"… They have been translated into dozens of languages, published in millions of copies… In 2015 Svetlana Alexievich was awarded the Nobel prize for literature. She is now at home, in Belarus, is working on a new book – and most of all wants her not to interfere. But gave Deutsche Welle this text, which probably could be called not an interview but a monologue in response to questions that in recent years it has been asked many times. For example, like this: how her life has changed after receiving the Nobel prize?
Svetlana Aleksievich: It has not changed. And to the Nobel prize my books were published in more than 30 countries, I often performed, for which also charge small fees. I lived quite modestly, but not poorly. And I have never had the desire to build a Villa on the French Riviera. I am well on my dacha near Minsk. But now I can freely work on new books.
And most importantly: my life has not changed because I changed. I like to open the window in the morning in the garden… light a candle… sit on the grass. The more I live, the more mysterious life. I and books became even slower to write because of this. Difficult it became. Want accuracy. I hear more nuances.
"My desire is to humanize history"
The approach of Svetlana Alexievich’s literature sometimes causes debate is not only political, but also aesthetic. In Russia we hear and read: they say, literature? Or "only" document?
– The genre in which I write, I call "novel votes". I never assume the right to judge and condemn. I’m trying to understand. And I am not interested in dry, bare history of facts, events. I’m writing a history of the senses. You can still call it a missed story. What people thought, understood and remembered during the event? He believed or didn’t believe what he had illusions, hopes, fears? I put the world of his books from thousands of voices, lives, pieces of our life and existence.
Svetlana Alexievich signing copies of his German readers
I think we are all in thrall to old ideas about literature. We refuse literature in new forms. So much happening in painting, in music, and why literature needs to be fixed? As for my Russian opponents, we can state the sad fact: Russia is afraid to let the world. Life is accelerating, the events overlap, and of course, literature is looking for new forms. We have no time, like Lev Tolstoy, to sit and leisurely write your novel. I want to tell about the event from hundreds of perspectives, because everyone has their own truth. Going to witness… And I am glad that my Nobel prize would have legalized the new space of literature, that literature is not just the same old conservative Canon, and much of what has arisen in our time, in a new life.
I’ve been looking for a genre that would be how I see the world as arranged in my eye, my ear… And chose the genre of human voices. Your books I look and hear on the streets. Outside the window. In real people talk about the major events of his time: the war, the collapse of the socialist Empire, Chernobyl, and together they leave in the word the country’s history, shared history. Old and recent. And everyone – the story of his little human destiny. Great story I see through a little history, then there is no roar of time, and the fact that we can understand what we’re interested in after years. We are interested in human life, I reduce it to human size.
Any history ignores the history of the soul, human passions remain outside of history. My task is to extract them from the darkness of extinction. I’m dealing with a double lie: the lie of totalitarianism and the lies of history, a science that cleans human life to unemotional paragraph in the history books. My desire is to humanize the story.
We introduce you to the Nobel prize speech of Svetlana Alexievich, spoken by her in Stockholm on 7 December in connection with the awarding of the Nobel prize for literature 2015. (07.12.2015)
In my books chorus sounds and you can always hear the lone human voice. The man for me exists simultaneously in two worlds – in a specific time and space. Every book I write long, five to seven years, write 500-700 people – different ages, different professions,
It happened that after a day of conversation, there was only one phrase. But what! "I am so little went to the front that the war was even grown".
"Us to change is very difficult"
But the man, except his fate, and his story, which takes Svetlana Aleksievich?
– I always thought the most? About freedom. In prison, in the camp of people thinking most of all about freedom, but that doesn’t mean he knows what freedom is.
We lived in a country where we are taught from childhood to die. Taught death. We are not taught that man is born for happiness, for love, we were taught that man exists to give myself to burn, to sacrifice themselves. Taught to love a man with a gun.
We grew up among the executioners and the victims. Let our parents lived in fear and not everything we were told, and often told nothing but the very air of our lives was poisoned. Evil kept a watchful eye on us. Therefore, we change very difficult.
I was in pain: why the sufferings we have not converted to freedom? We have also decided to magnify, starting with Dostoevsky in particular, the magic of suffering. As one Church leader said, thank God, ended well-fed years, a person need to suffer. But this is a degeneration of ideas of Dostoevsky. I’m starting to think that the suffering, on the contrary, cement the human soul, it can no longer develop. Still, the development of the human need for a happy, normal life.
Of course, a new generation, a different picture of the world, but many young people are again reading Marx and Lenin. In Russian cities open the museums for Stalin, give him the monuments. I don’t think there are any generational differences, we are not so different. Yes, young people know languages, good with computer, they have had these ideological problems… And still we are still in the same world. Still don’t know who we are and where we are going. We have no worldview, no structure no past, no present, no future. Belarus is generally a Museum of the past. And in Russia? One Russian – power, the other for those who call themselves patriots, the third – the Communists, the fourth – liberals. Russia – always feeling, always a project, never implemented.
"Now again time force"
In the book "Time of second hand" there’s a story when a young girl recalls how she didn’t want to read "The GULAG archipelago" Solzhenitsyn, though a teacher in the school and forced. For her, it was thick and boring book, all that is written there, seemed very distant. And suddenly in Belarus brutally dispersed a demonstration in the square. Hundreds of people put in prison, and throughout the country begin arrests. She is shocked how quickly the Stalinist machine comes to life and starts to work! People are afraid to speak, begin to convey. No one is forcing them to do – they remembered what to do. Genetically remembered. She went to Russia to continue to learn, and there begins to participate in the protest movement… And something begins to meet again: the same conversations, the same betrayal, the same security services. "The GULAG archipelago" becomes the current book.
We didn’t let the world shut away from him. Now all frighten, Russian – good soldiers, for the price, our life is cheap. Know one way to force yourself to respect: we should be afraid of.
Putin came – and the world is afraid of us.
How so fast Putin has restored the Stalinist machine? Again, the FSB – the former KGB – can break into any house, confiscate the computer, to sue the blogger for the post in support of Ukraine, all over Russia looking for and judge the alleged spies, scientists, teachers, military. People are intimidated, and what is actually happening in society, what it thinks, is unknown.
Take the liberty to say that we missed the chance we had in the 1990-ies. On the question of what should be a country – strong or worthy, where people live well, chose the first option: strong. Now again the time force. Russians are fighting Ukrainians. With the brothers. Russian planes are bombing Syria…
Time hopes were replaced with fear. Time turned back. Time of second hand…