Svetlana Alexievich

Belarusian author and historian

Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Svetlana Alexievich is an award-winning Belarusian author and historian. Over the last 30 years, she has given a voice to survivors of conflict and disaster throughout the Soviet Union, including during World War II, the Chernobyl disaster, and the Soviet-Afghan War. Her works uniquely employ direct testimonies and interviews to create collections of narratives that focus on witnesses to historical struggles. Her first book, War’s Unwomanly Face, was published in 1985 and included direct accounts of women’s experiences during World War II. Since its publishing, the book has sold more than two million copies. Due to Alexievich’s outspoken criticism of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, she was forced to leave her country in 2000. She was offered sanctuary by the International Cities of Refuge Network, and was only able to return to Belarus in 2011. In 2015, Alexievich became the first-ever Belarusian to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.