'Voices of Chernobyl' author, a serious writer and great storyteller

0:48 min

The bookies favourite to win this year's Nobel Prize in literature was described as a worthy recipient on Thursday as Belarusian writer and journalist Svetlana Alexievich joined a list of past Winners including Ernest Hemingway and Patrick Modiano.  

The 67-year-old received the literature Award "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time".

Marie Lundström, presenter of Swedish Radio's Bokradio, tells Radio Sweden that the Belarusian journalist and author was painstaking in her work, which she described as "poetic".

"She tells us about today. The life we have around us. The horror of war, in a very different way than other journalists. She is a great storyteller, but her stories are true."

Svetlana Alexievich is the first journalist to win the award and Marie Lundström says the Swedish Academy is moving with the times.

"This is maybe a new way of looking at novels and storytelling."    

Svetlana Alexievich's best-known works in English translation include Voices From Chernobyl, an oral history of the 1986 nuclear catastrophe; and Boys In Zink, a collection of first-hand accounts from the Soviet-Afghan war.  

Marie Lundström tells Radio Sweden that the 67-year-old's attention to detail sets her apart from other journalists. 

"The way she works is fascinating, the Chernobyl book took ten years and after five interviews, she uses one and from that one she perhaps uses a tenth of it. Only the important stuff is left. And those words capture you immediately."

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