Belarussian author Svetlana Alexievich

Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich says truth is her main objective

Belarussian author Svetlana Alexievich, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature for her portrayal of the harshness of life in the Soviet Union, says her main objective is to tell the truth.

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN (DECEMBER 6, 2015) (REUTERS) – Belarussian author Svetlana Alexievich, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in October for her portrayal of the harshness of life in the Soviet Union, said her main objective is to tell the truth at a news conference in Stockholm, Sweden on Sunday (December 6).

The Swedish Academy said Alexievich’s work, which chronicles the lives of Soviet women during World War Two as well as the consequences of the 1986 nuclear disaster in Chernobyl and the Soviet military adventure in Afghanistan, was “a monument to suffering and courage in our time”.

“People are saying today that I am dishing out dirt on the nation, dishing out dirt on Putin whom people love today, like they do Lukashenko, as Russian people have lost their vision today,” Alexievich said in response to a question about Russophobia being the reason for her receiving the Nobel prize.

“I’m just looking for the truth. I’m looking for the truth, I write what I see the way I see it, as I understand it. That’s the only thing I do and I will repeat again: one just has to do his or her job calmly,” she added.

Born in Ukraine in 1948, Alexievich lived in exile for many years because of her criticism of the Belarussian government. Since returning home four years ago, she has kept a low profile and stayed out of politics.

After the prize was announced, Alexievich obliquely criticised Belarus’s hardline leader Alexander Lukashenko and denounced Russian forces for their involvement in the separatist conflict in neighbouring Ukraine.

Alexievich’s documentary style of writing first became popular in the former Soviet Union in the 1980s. But she has long been an uncomfortable writer for the authorities due to her humanistic, emotional tales of peoples’ fates entangled in major historic developments.

“When I just started writing, I really wanted to understand who we are, what sort of people we are, why we live so wrong and ugly, why again nothing worked out of this beautiful idea. I saw people suffering around me. And I wanted to find answers to that,” she added.

Alexievich said the prize would enable her to devote herself to two new writing projects.

After finishing school Alexievich worked as a teacher and a journalist and lived abroad in Sweden, Germany and France for many years.

Her books, primarily written in Russian, include “Voices from Chernobyl – Chronicle of the Future”, and “Zinky Boys – Soviet voices from a forgotten war”, a portrayal of the Soviet Union’s war in Afghanistan.

One of her best-known works is “War’s Unwomanly Face”, which took several years to get published, as Soviet authorities saw it as subversive and undermining the myth of the Soviet army’s victory in World War Two.