There is no blurb for this one, partly because this copy didn’t come with one – just excerpts from newspaper reviews – and partly because it needs no blurb. The book speaks for itself and with Alexievich’s Nobel Prize in Literature award, it means it will thankfully never be forgotten.
After a short historical background on the explosion of reactor no. 4 (whose radioactive particles reached as far as China and Africa), the reader is introduced to A lone human voice. This truly shocking and saddening account sets the scene for this outstanding and powerful chronicle of eyewitness recollections from those that were involved with the Chernobyl catastrophe.
Often forgotten in the face of overwhelming statistics are the real human lives who have suffered, those forgotten get a voice here. The cost is not just in lives lost but dreams and hopes shattered, health ruined and families torn apart. This book focuses on the Belarusians who bore the brunt of the disaster and of those who helped try to contain it and the risks they took.
The beauty of this series of monologues is that Alexievich didn’t ask questions, instead she did the one thing that the people had been wanting for years, she listened. Apart from an essay of her own the author merely adds only the briefest additions to the text such as ‘he looks pensive’, ‘she cries’ and so on.
This allows the people to talk about whatever they need to and follow the direction of their thoughts and there is a surprising amount of philosophical views that come out. Especially as many still don’t accept the subtle devastation that hit their lands and destroyed them, who were then shunned by an uneducated public. What shines through is that they loved their land and animals, most of those living there knew little else and the passion for their lost place is ever present.
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