Irony, thy name is Belarus (And Russia isn't far behind)

Lukasjenko's (Belarus prime minister) congratulations to Aleksijevitjs Nobel Prize win:


"Your works leaves neither Belarusians or readers in other countries indifferent . I am sincerely glad for your successes. I hope that your prize will serve our state and the Belarusian people."


None of Aleksijevitj's books have been published in Belarus. And she's been in exile for years.


In Russia meanwhile, Aleksijevitj was one of three finalists for the super prestigious Bolsjaja kniga literary prize last year. She didn't win, but she was selected as reader's choice. Russian author Michail Veller managed to spit this out a couple of hours before her win was announced  


"The Nobel prize in literature doesn't go to good authors anymore. It's just given to authors for political reasons. Or to some tiny minority somewhere just to point out that they even have any literature."


I expect he'll never get one. Translations mine, by way of Swedish newspapers, from the Russian, so if I'm misquoting here, blame me.


In any case, I have read Aleksijevitj, and ... I get that some people are confused because most of her books are journalistic in nature, and based on oral histories. But they are powerful and moving, and there is a lot of skill on show even reading in translation. I read a quote from her somewhere that points out "The first hours, sometimes even the first days, in such interviews, all you get is the rhetoric, the public story. It's not until all that has been said, that you really get to the personal truth."


Anyway, I think this is the first Nobel winner in some years that I'd already read and liked, (although there's a couple I've read and liked after the fact). Her books aren't pretty, and in some ways, they are very Russian (in that they tend to dwell on very unhappy situations and the people in them). I read them in Swedish, and don't know the names, but the book she wrote about Chernobyl is the one I'd suggest, it's tragic and haunting.