Thursday, October 10, 2013


I've been checking the odds over the past few day on who might win the Nobel Prize for Literature. According to betting site Ladbrokes, for days Haruki Murakami had the best odds, followed by Joyce Carol Oates. Far down the list was Svetlana Alexievich, a Belarusian journalist, with 50/1 odds.

But this morning before the winner was announced, I saw she'd shot out ahead of Murakami to top the list. As with Herta Müller, I'd never heard her name, and it wasn't all that easy to find information about her. But what I found (mostly in German) was interesting - she writes about people's lives after the break-up of the Soviet Union, their dashed expectations, about Chernobyl, the Soviet/Afghanistan war, and other eastern European issues.

We all know now that Alice Munro won, and I'm glad. I've read her stories and think she's excellent, but can't help but feel lucky I stumbled on Alekievich, who sounds even more worthwhile. 

Otherwhere, earlier this week I put myself on a diet of 50 pages a day of Unbroken to ensure I'd finish before leaving for the US tomorrow. The world conspired against me, first through my own fault (i.e. forgetting to take it on my commute one day, minus 50), then through the chatty neighbor I met on the train this morning, who chewed my ear off during my reading time. Anyway, you'll be glad to know I finished the book anyway. Very moving story.

And now to pick out something for the 9-hour plane trip. Something (I hope) I won't mind leaving behind. 


Harry said...

I read Voices from Chernobyl and thought it was absolutely brilliant. I've been vaguely meaning to check out some of her other books but haven't got round to to it yet, this is a useful reminder.

Anonymous said...

Yes, a very moving story. Unbelievable stamina the
man (who is still alive) has. Another moving story is the author's. You can read an account of her life by googling "A Sudden Illness", written by her for a magazine a few years ago.


SarahJane said...

Glad to hear that. Not one person in my office had heard of her. I'm going to look for the Chernobyl book. thanks

Anonymous said...

I don't think she has written a Chernobyl book.
Her first book was Seabiscuit. It takes her 7 or 8 years to write a book because she is bedridden.


SarahJane said...

Hi Johanna,
I meant the Aleksievitch book. Did you read Hillebrand's "Seabiscuit" too?

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