Svetlana Alexievich, a Belarusian journalist and author of the 2005 nonfiction work Voices from Chernobyl, was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday. In its announcement, made by permanent secretary Sara Danius, the Swedish Academy praised the author for her "polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.”
The 67-year-old author, who lives in Minsk, is the 14th woman to win the prize, established in 1901 to honor a body of work. Danius remarked that when reached by phone, Alexievich was "overjoyed" once she finally understood who was calling her, and deemed the designation "fantastic." Alexievich was the favorite to win the award, with Haruki Murakami and Ngugi Wa Thiong'o as the other top contenders.
During an interview after the announcement, Danius remarked that with her books Alexievich has "a new kind of literary genre." She continued, "That's part of her achievement. It's a true achievement. Not just in terms of material, but also in terms of form."
Picador, publisher of the National Book Critics Circle winning Voices of Chernobyl in paperback, has gone back to press for an immediate additional 20,000 copies. "Picador is thrilled for Svetlana Alexievich and congratulates her on the recognition of her work by the Nobel Committee," said publisher Stephen Morrison. "Her work is powerful and through her unique approach, her books have given voice to the hidden history of the individual human experience during the Soviet and post-Soviet periods in Russia."
Alexievich's Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War, originally published by Norton in 1992, will get a quick reprint in hardcover and paperback, according to the publisher, with new paperbacks set to arrive early next week.
This article has been updated.