Nobel Prize-winning author Svetlana Alexievich talks about what China can learn from the fall of the Soviet Union at the Beijing International Book Fair

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/8/25 19:03:39

Words of warning

Svetlana Alexievich (right) Photo: Zhang Yuchen/GT

Well-known Belarussian writer Svetlana Alexievich appeared at the 23rd Beijing International Book Fair to meet with Chinese fans and introduce the  newly published Chinese translation of Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets, on Thursday.

According to the author, the book acts as the closing work in her Red Encyclopedia series.

The latest book written by the 2015 Noble Prize winner for Literature, Secondhand Time illustrates the lives of the Russian people and the painful costs they paid between 1991 and 2012, when the country was undergoing social change after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Even though Alexievich is from Belarus, she writes in Russian and her works focus on the former Soviet Union.

According to the book's Chinese translator Lü Ningsi, who also attended the event, China and Russia have always had a multifaceted influence on each other and this influence has extended to Alexievivch herself.

"Soviet socialism has gone through huge ups and downs. I hope more people, via objective documentation, can come to understand what older generations lived through. The Soviet Union was once a great power, but has split and is in decline right now. I hope you take my work and use it to take some detours," Alexievich said at the meeting.

Secondhand Time is based on interviews with ordinary Russian citizens and is written in a "documentary" style. 

It took Alexievich over 30 years to create her series Red Encyclopedia, which includes five books: War Does not Have a Woman's Face, The Last Witness, Boys in Zinc, Voices from Chernobyl and Secondhand Time.

During a Q&A section, Alexievich explained the meaning behind the title for Secondhand Time, which she said "represents a diagnosis of my country."

"After the collapse of the Soviet Union, people of different nations should have created their own things such as new ideas and concepts. But in fact, nothing changed. People didn't learn a lesson from the past," Alexievich said.

Newspaper headline: Words of warning

Posted in: Books

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