The Human Face of History

Svetlana Aleksijevitsj, Mikael Nydahl and Erika Fatland

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Svetlana Aleksijevitsj, Mikael Nydahl and Erika Fatland

Nobel Prize Laureate Svetlana Alexievich doesn’t trust ideas, but she trusts people, and treats every single life like a piece of art.

In her longing for truth, she has found her own genre, bordering between novel and non-fiction. Her method has always been the same: For each book, she interviews close to a thousand people, whose voices we otherwise wouldn’t have heard.

Alexievich gives ordinary people a language and a space to tell their versions of what really happened when they were hit by world history in their everyday lives. Through her polyphonic works about the Soviet experience, she has earned her prominent place in the world’s literature.

In her first publication, The Unwomanly Face of War, we meet women who served in the Red Army during World War II. Then followed The Last Witnesses, Boys in Zinc, Voices From Chernobyl and Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets. Together, they make up her life’s work, Voices from Big Utopia.

Through her books, she shows us how the history and the present are connected. She lets the voices show that human hearts, histories and experiences change very little over time.

Now she has begun new projects, which will deal with love and with old age.

This night, writer Erika Fatland will give an introduction to Alexievich’s writing, before Alexievich will meet Mikael Nydahl in conversation on stage. Nydahl is a translator and editor with a thorough knowledge of post-Soviet literature.

The conversation will be interpreted from Russian.

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