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text 2016-08-17 13:15
Expanding....

Hi All!

 

Up to now this blog only existed on donostiabookclub.booklikes.com, and only in English. But we are expanding!!!

 

 

from now on you can also read us on blogger: https://donostiabookclub.blogspot.com.es, and most of the posts will be bilingual. 

Come and visit us there!!! Don't hesitate to comment :)

 

¡Hola a todos!

 

Hasta ahora este blog existía solo en donostiabookclub.booklikes.com, y solo en inglés. ¡¡¡Pero estamos ampliando!!!

 

A partir de ahora podéis leernos también en blogger: https://donostiabookclub.blogspot.com.es, y la mayoría de los posts serán bilingües.

 

¡¡¡Venid a visitarnos allí!!! No dudéis en comentar :)

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text 2016-06-20 12:33
Notes on Joyce Carol Oates´s ¨Zombie¨

 

Zombie (1995) is a novel inspired by real life serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer. In the novel, the main character Quentin wants to 'create' the perfect companion by kidnapping young men and modifying their brains in order to dominate and control them. During his many failed (and murderous) attempts, he notices that he begins to enjoy the killing more than the companionship.

Awards

  • Bram Stoker Award: Superior Achievement in a Novel

  • Fisk Fiction Prize, Boston Book Review

  • New York Times Notable Books of the Year



 

Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer (May 21, 1960 – November 28, 1994), also known as the Milwaukee Cannibal, was an American serial killer and sex offender, who committed the rape, murder, and dismemberment of seventeen men and boys between 1978 and 1991, with many of his later murders also involving necrophilia, cannibalism, and the permanent preservation of body parts—typically all or part of the skeletal structure.

Describing the increase in his rate of killing in the two months prior to his arrest, he stated he had been "completely swept along" with his compulsion to kill, adding: "It was an incessant and never-ending desire to be with someone at whatever cost. Someone good looking, really nice looking. It just filled my thoughts all day long."

 

 

  • the relationship between race and ideal democratic citizenship in post-civil rights era America (the discussion was begun by the actual Dahmer case):
    - “In my heart,” he says, “I did not plead GUILTY because I was NOT GUILTY & am not. But it was a RACIAL MATTER, too. The boy was black & Q_P_ is white”
    - Q_P_’s lawyer is just “grateful that they didn’t draw a black judge”
    - Q_P_’s position as a “caretaker” of a building for nonwhite residents is also indicative of his own dehumanization by other white characters: even Mr. T_, Q_P_’s white probation officer, finds it strange. When he learns that his client is the caretaker, he never questions Q_P_’s suitability for the job or that he may relapse, given his criminal record, and can be a danger to his tenants. Instead, he seems more worried about Q_P_’s tenants being a danger to Q_P_. He is rude to them and pushes his way through them. After he forces them to leave the room, he tells Q_P_ that it “must be a little weird for a white man, white caretaker, for them, eh?” He suggests that a “real” white man does not take care of anyone, particularly nonwhites. Then, aware that his words can be interpreted as racist (but also sexist), Mr. T_ quickly recovers by insisting that he “doesn’t mean anything by it” and that he’s “got lots of black friends. I’m speaking of history”

 

  • Meaning of the title: Zombies, in fact, are portrayed as living dead creatures, that, though still alive, can exert no control over their own bodies. They need to feed on human flesh, so as to absorb the life they lack through cannibalism; they belong to a definite territory, though not much is known about their real origins (thus, unlike vampires, not embodying the alien or the foreign invader); they usually destroy a domestic and/or romantic or familiar setting; finally, they are immortal. These characteristics are symbolically ascribable to both zombies and serial killers. Consequently, the social monster, who wants to subtract life from his victims, reproduces the archetypal monster, who materially denies and overcomes his own death

 

  • ending racialized and gendered violence goes beyond legal recognition of social equality; it also requires the recognition and destruction of mental constructs that create these oppressive, dehumanizing arrangements
  • acceptance of dominant cultural beliefs in white straight male supremacy
  • part of society’s designated “out groups,” such as drug addicts, homosexuals and racial minorities (especially blacks): the disappearance of one of their members is less likely to attract public attention or concern
  • accusation of using typical stereotypes: a clear boundary between the “normal” (the lawabiding citizen) and the “abnormal” (the deviant serial killer)

 

 

Zombie has been made into a short film by Bill Connington, who also adapted the novella for the stage:https://youtu.be/e3yxxRI_8Ig

 

Joyce Carol Oates denies that Quentin P_ is “an allegorical figure” and insists that this character is so different from the people around him that he is, “virtually a subspecies in their midst” (“Psycho Killer”).

 

 

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text 2016-05-15 21:12
Literaktum with Jordi Fibla. Talking about Philip Roth

This year is a second consecutive year we have participated in Literaktum, but this time, on a much bigger scale. At our May meeting we had a special guest: Jordi Fibla Feito, Philip Roth's translator. He discussed with us Roth's ¨Everyman¨ and shared with us his amazing knowledge about the world of literature. I would like to share with you the conversation we had, one that I wish we could have continued for much, much longer.

 

 

 

Jorge Fibla Feito (Barcelona, 1946; he has never officially changed his name to Jordi) studied Modern History and English Philology at different periods of his life, but he didn't finish either of both careers. After working 10 years as an editor in Noguer and Plaza and Janes, he dedicated himself to translations. Since 1978 he has translated over 300 works mostly from English, but also from French and Japanese. Jordi, is that unusual for the translator to specialise in more than one language and, what is more, in 3 that are so distinct?

 

In fact, I am specialized in English and American narrative. However, the first foreign language I learnt at school was French, and I have always had a strong liking for it. French culture and language are very dear to me. During a period in the seventies and eighties I translated several essays and some novels from French. Then I had so much work in English that I relinquished on translating from French, but even now I read French literature almost on a daily basis.

 

How did it happen that you have started with the Japanese?

 

Japanese is a domestic language for me, due to the fact that my wife is Japanese. She spoke her language to our children from the beginning and presently she is doing the same with our grandchildren. So, Japanese is a language always present at home. I have been many times in Japan since 1976, and I am very interested in its culture and language. However, it is extremely difficult to me, and, although by now I have a good knowledge of both the spoken and written language, I am still far from mastering it. But I exercise myself every day, watching Japanese TV via satellite and studying it with a wonderful array of learning material. My wife and I have done several translations (Mishima, Tanizaki, Enchi, Ichikawa), but my present goal is finally getting a knowledge of the written language deep enough to be able to translate Japanese narrative by myself, counting on her only to consult the difficulties that could arise in the process.

 

Among the authors you have translated are some of the finest of the XXth century: Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, J.M. Coetzee, Lawrence Durrell, Nadine Gordimer, John Irving, Henry James, William Kennedy, John Kennedy Toole, Rudyard Kipling, D.H. Lawrence, David Malouf, Arthur Miller, Colum McCann, Toni Morrison, but apart from these authors, you have also translated some other books, like for example Daniel Steel. What's the difference for you when translating this kind of works and how much freedom do you have to decide who to translate?

 

As it happens with most translators, I  have never had the freedom to decide what to translate, but along my career I found that some of the authors whose work were offered to me were much of my liking, and I strove in order to be entrusted with the translation of every new book they published.

Danielle Steel or, for that matter, Frederick Forsyth or Stephen King never interested me, but if you are a freelance translator and need to make ends meet, translating what you don't like is unavoidable. You earn less translating high literature that the popular kind.

 

In Radio Classica you have said that a translator is also a writer (´un traductor no deja de ser un escritor´). Could you explain a bit what you meant?

 

To translate literature you need to have some of the qualities common to a writer. You need your instinct and your intuition, in order to make the work written in a foreign language seem like it was written in your own, not an exact replica of the words, but an exact replica of the textual sense even if the wording is very different, as it happens when a book has a complicated language. Of course, the creative act is the author's province, but translating it also often requires the work of imagination. Some scholars consider translation as a literary genre in its own right. This is most usual in poetry, but it can also be applied to high fiction.

 

Have you ever been tempted to, not only translate, but also write like for example translator Javier Calvo does?

 

Yes, I do write, but I keep it to myself. I keep it in a drawer and let it for my children to decide what to do with that, if to burn it or so, once I'm gone.

 

Spain´s Ministry of Culture has awarded Jordi Fibla, on November, 5th, 2015, with Premio Nacional a la Obra de un Traductor in recognition for his important contributions to literature. The jury chose him for ¨his long trajectory as a professional translator, his versatility and quality of his work¨. However, he downplayed the honor by saying that only 100 of his translations are ¨good¨ works.

 

 

 

Many times you have said that Philip Roth is your favourite writer. You have translated 19 of his works, but never talked to him personally. I know that nowadays to be in touch with an author is more and more difficult for translators, what authors gave you this opportunity?

 

I have had a personal contact with Amy Tan, Column McCann and Alison Lurie. I have also had an interesting correspondence with Thomas Pynchon and William Kennedy. The problem with Roth was that he didn't accept a direct interchange. You had to say to him what you wanted through his agent, and his answers always were impersonal. Also, he submitted your translations to the perusal of a Columbia University professor, whose opinions not always were much to the point.  On several occasions I have been disappointed with what seemed to me an unwarranted aloofness and his seeming lack of understanding of what entails to make a literary translation. But, as I told you before, I forgive everything to Philip Roth.

 

And here, because of time pressure we had to leave the fascinating talk about the world of translation and we moved to Philip Roth and his ¨Everyman¨. First was due a short presentation of author's bioghraphy, let me repeat it here as shortly as possible:

 

Philip Milton Roth was born on March, 19th 1933 to Herman Roth and Bess (Finkel) Roth in Newark, New Jersey, where he and his older brother grew up. His father, the American-born son of Jewish immigrants from the eastern European region of Galicia (now occupied by Poland and Ukraine), was an insurance salesman.

 

From 1950, when he graduated from high school, 1951 Roth attended the Newark extension of Rutgers University before transferring to Bucknell University, in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. While at Bucknell, Roth edited the literary magazine, appeared in student plays and became a member of Phi Beta Kappa. After graduating with B.A. Degree in English in 1954, he obtained an M.A. Degree in English from the University of Chicago the following year. Then he moved to Washington, D.C., where for 2 years he served in the US Army before he was discharged due to a back injury. Upon returning to the University of Chicago in 1956, he began teaching a full schedule of freshman composition while working toward a doctorate degree, which he abandoned in the first quarter. During Roth's two-year stint as an Englich instructor at the University of Chicago, he continued to write short fiction, which he has begun doing at least as early as 1955.

 

Roth published Goodbye, Columbus in 1959. The earlier publication of one of the stories in Goddbye, Columbus, ¨Defender of the Faith¨, which appeared in the New Yorker in April 1957, had provoked a barrage of charges that Roth´s attitude toward his Jewish subjects was anti-Semitic, which prompted one rabbi to accuse him of presenting a ¨distorted image of the basic values of Orthodox Judaism¨.

 

However, the majority of critics were impressed, which earned Roth a National Book Award, an award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, a Daroff Award from the Jewish Book Council of America, and a Guggenheim fellowship that enabled him to travel to Rome. In 1960 he began a two-year stint as a visiting lecturer at the University of Iowa Writer's workshop, followed by two years as a writer-in-residence at Princeton University in New Jersey.

 

His next two books are now considered minor works: Letting Go (1962) and When She Was Good (1967), his only novel to feature a female protagonist.

 

The period between 1962 and 1967, during which Roth lived in New York City and underwent psychoanalysis, marked the longest, up to now, hiatus in his productivity that he had ever experienced. In interviews he often blamed for that his marriage in 1959 to Margaret Martinson Williams (from whom he was legally separated in 1963 and who died in a car accident in 1968). He said that marriage exhausted his financial and emotional resources. In his novelised biography, Roth Unbound, its author, Claudia Roth Pierpont compares that marriage and its destructiveness to Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald's. Margaret, to marry Roth, lied that she was pregnant, he said he would marry her is she aborted, so she pretended she did, when in reality she went to the cinema.

 

Roth restored his career during the late 1960s, when he began teaching literature at the University of Pennsylvania, where he remained on the faculty for about 11 years. The 1969 feature film adaptation of Goodbye, Columbus, starring Ali Mac Graw and Richard Benjamin; also the publication of Portnoy´s Complaint. The book sold well, but not without controversies: it was banned in Australia. Because of all the focus on him, he decided to move out of New York City to the Yaddo Artist Colony, in Saratoga Springs, in upstate New York.

 

During the early 1970s Roth wrote a series of entirely different satirical novels that received mixed reaction: Our Gang (1971), a parody of Nixon administration; The Breast (1972); the ironically titled The Great American Novel (1973), a baseball satire. And since that year he has lived on his 40-acre farm in northwestern Connecticut.

 

In 1974 he authored what many consider his finest novel: My Life as a Man. Its multilayered story centers on the novelist Peter Tarnopol's attempts to solve his dilemmas by writing ¨Useful Fictions¨ about Nathan Zuckermanm a Jewish writer whose life resembles his own.

Zuckerman became a recurring character who appeared in several of Roth´s subsequent novels: The Ghost Writer (1979), Zuckerman Unbound (1981), The Anatomy Lesson (1983), The Counterlife (1986). Roth defined the Zuckerman novels as ¨hypothetical autobiographies¨.

 

After those he decided to write The Facts: A Novelist's Autobiography (1988); a memoir of his first 36 years, which began as a therapeutic exercise to help him recover from the deep depression he had fallen into after minor knee surgery in 1987.

 

In 1990 he married the distinguished British actress Claire Bloom. They had first met in 1965 when they were both otherwise attached and had lived together since 1976. They separated after four years, in 1994. In 1996 Bloom published her autobiography Leaving a Doll's House, where she wrote in detail about their relationship.

 

In the 90s Roth was very prolific. He published: Deception (1990), Patrimony: A True Story (1991), Operation Shylock (1993), Sabbath's Theater (1995). In 1997 he authored American Pastoral, the first book in a trilogy of postwar American life. I Married a Communist (1998), the second volume in Roth's trilogy, did not fare as well with the critics. In this book Eve, the traitorous wife was based on Bloom. The final instalment of the trilogy, The Human Stain (2000) was a portrait of contemporary American angst.

 

Then he published: The Dying Animal (2001), The Plot Against America (2004), Everyman (2006), which focuses on death and was influenced by witnessing many of his friends grow old and die; Indignation (2008); The Humbling (2009) and Nemesis (2010).

 

In 2010, after publishing Nemesis, he said in an interview with a French magazine that he's retiring from writing. He wrote 31 books. Also had a small disagreement with Wikipedia when he requested to correct origins of The Human Stain, and they said he is not a believable source. They claimed it was based on Anatole Broyard's life and he said it was based on a story of his friend, Melvin Tumin. Now it appears as corrected and even describes the exchange they had.

 

And then, before we have managed to encourage the Donostia Book Club members to join the conversation, there were two more crucial questions to our guest, Jordi:

 

 

Could you situate Everyman in Roth's works?

 

At the beginning of the century, when Roth decided to write a series of short novels, trying to do the same that his great friend and fellow writer Saul Bellow had done in his last years, he started a book about  an actor who has lost his ability to perform. Then, in 2005, some emotional upheavals had him setting aside this manuscript and starting a different book, dealing with what then obsessed him: illness, aging and death. In fact, the previous book, which finally would be "The Humbling". It also deals with the same themes, but in "Everyman" we find a tenderness, a soft spot which is not counteracted by rage, as it happens in "The Humbling". In "Everyman" there is nostalgia, desperation and remorse, but not the kind of rage that can lead the character to kill himself. We could say that "Everyman" stands apart among the series of his last works as a book reflecting much more than others the desperation of the author when crossing a bleak patch in his life.

 

In journalism, especially daily newspapers, it often happens that the editor changes the title of an article without consulting it with the author, or without giving the author much choice. Everyman is the first time I've heard about it happening in fiction. How did it happen that Everyman was changed to Elegía?

 

 

I proposed to name this book "Humano". In French it has been named "Un homme". But the translator's proposals to the publishers are always wasted. At least this is my personal experience. They use the title they consider more commercial. So, they named this book "Elegía" without asking my opinion. Then Isabel Coixet made "The Dying Animal" into a film and, as "moribundo" didn't seem commercial, she named it "Elegía". Confusion was served. You have two different works by Roth with the same title, which has nothing to do with the original.

 

The rest was a passionate chat between many people, our own impressions and guesses about the meaning of the book and how autobiographical it was. The chat lasted long after the official meeting has finished and I am sure we will all remember it for a long time. We can only hope that Jordi has felt our enthusiasm!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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text 2016-02-09 20:31
Svetlana Alexievich, Well-deserved Nobel Prize 2015

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2015 was awarded to Svetlana Alexievich "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time". But one has to wonder how her own suffering translates into her books. I hope to read one day her biography written by someone as talented as she is!

 

 

Svetlana Alexiyevich, a Belarusian investigative journalist and non-fiction prose writer who writes in Russian. Awarded Nobel Prize in 2015. Alexievich has never made any public statements about her personal life.

 

 

 

She was born 31 May 1948 in the Ukrainian town of Ivano-Frankovsk into the family of a serviceman. Her father is Belarusian and her mother is Ukrainian. When the father had completed his military service, the family moved to Belarus, and settled in a village where both Father and Mother worked as schoolteachers. (The father's grandfather was also a rural schoolteacher.) In many interviews she talks about life there as life without man: one could hear just voices of women and their laments. She grew up hearing about death and war.

 

Already in her school days she wrote poetry and contributed articles to the school newspaper. After finishing school Alexiyevich worked as a reporter on the local paper in the town of Narovl, Gomel Region. At that time she needed two years work record (as was the rule in those days) in order to enroll in the Department of Journalism of Minsk University, entering it in 1967. She studied journalism at the University of Minsk between 1967 and 1972. During her university years she won several awards at the republican and all-Union competitions for scholarly and students' papers.

 

After her graduation she was referred to a local newspaper in Brest near the Polish border, because of her oppositional views. At the same time Alexiyevich taught at the local school. She was torn between various career options: to continue the family tradition of school teaching, scholarly work, or journalism. But after a year she returned to Minsk and began an employment at the newspaper Rural Newspaper. For many years, she collected materials for her first book War's Unwomanly Face, which is based on interviews with hundreds of women who participated in the Second World War. This work is the first in Alexievich's grand cycle of books, "Voices of Utopia", where life in the Soviet Union is depicted from the perspective of the individual. Several years later she took the job of a correspondent for the literary magazine Neman and was soon promoted to the head of the section for non-fiction.

 

 

 

She tried her voice in various genres, such as the short story, essay, and reportage. It was the famous Byelorussian writer Ales Adamovich who made a decisive influence on Svetlana's choice, particularly his books I'm from the Fiery Village and The Book of the Siege. He wrote them jointly with other authors but the idea and its development were entirely his, and it was a new genre for both Byelorussian and Russian literature. Adamovich was looking for the right definition of the genre, calling it "collective novel", "novel-oratorio", "novel-evidence", "people talking about themselves", "epic chorus", to name a few of his appellations. Alexiyevich has always named Adamovich as her main teacher. He helped her to find a path of her own.

 

In one of her interviews she said: "I've been searching for a literary method that would allow the closest possible approximation to real life. Reality has always attracted me like a magnet, it tortured and hypnotized me, I wanted to capture it on paper. So I immediately appropriated this genre of actual human voices and confessions, witness evidences and documents. This is how I hear and see the world - as a chorus of individual voices and a collage of everyday details. This is how my eye and ear function. In this way all my mental and emotional potential is realized to the full. In this way I can be simultaneously a writer, reporter, sociologist, psychologist and preacher."

 

In 1983 she completed her book The Unwomanly Face of the War. For two years it was sitting at a publishing house but was not published. Alexiyevich was accused of pacifism, naturalism, de-glorification of the heroic Soviet woman. Such accusations could have quite serious consequences in those days. All the more so since already after her first book I've Left My Village (monologues of people who abandoned their native parts) she has already had a reputation of a dissident journalist with anti-Soviet sentiments. On order of the Byelorussian Central Committee of the Communist Party Alexiyevich's already composed book was destroyed and she was accused of anti-Communist and anti-government views. She was threatened with losing her job. They told her: "How can you work on our magazine with such alien views? And why are you not yet a member of the Communist Party?"

 

Deemed unpatriotic by authorities, her early works remained unpublished until the political reformation in the mid-1980s initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev’s liberalizing policy of perestroika. In 1985 The Unwomanly Face of the War came out simultaneously in Minsk and in Moscow. In subsequent years it was repeatedly reprinted; all in all more than two million copies were sold out. This novel, which the author calls "the novel-chorus", is made up of monologues of women in the war speaking about the unknown aspects of the Second World War that had never been related before. The book was hailed by the war writers as well as the public.

 

 


In the same year her second book came out: The Last Witnesses: 100 Unchildlike Stories, which has also languished unpublished for the same reasons (pacifism, failure to meet ideological standards). This book also ran into many reprints and was acclaimed by numerous critics, who called both books "a discovery in the genre of war prose". The war seen through women's and children's eyes opened up a whole new area of feelings and ideas.

 

The 40th anniversary of the war was marked by the theatre production of The Unwomanly Face of the War at the renowned Taganka Theatre (staged by Anatoly Efros.) The Omsk Drama Theatre received the State Prize for their production of The Unwomanly Face of the War. The play based on this novel was running in many theatres around the country. A cycle of documentary films was produced on the basis of The Unwomanly Face of the War. The film cycle was awarded with the State Prize, and received the Silver Dove at the Leipzig Festival of Documentary Films. Alexiyevich also received many other prizes for this work.

 

Published in 1989, Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from a Forgotten War exposed the hidden, undocumented futility of the Soviet intervention (1979–89) in the Afghan War (1978–92) and served to demystify the role of nationalism and Soviet autonomy. The title referred to the zinc coffins used by the military to return the dead. To collect material for the book Alexiyevich was traveling around the country for four years to meet war victims' mothers and veterans of the Afghan war. She also visited the war zone in Afghanistan. The book was a bombshell and many people could not forgive the author for de-mythologizing the war. In the first place the military and Communist papers attacked Alexiyevich. In 1992, court proceedings have been opened against the author and her book in Minsk. The democratically minded public rose in defense of the book. The case was closed. Later several documentary films and plays were based on this book.

 

 

In 1993, she published Enchanted with Death, a book about attempted suicides as a result of the downfall of their socialist mainland. They were people who felt inseparable from the socialist ideals, who were unable to accept the new order, the new country with its newly interpreted history. The book was adapted for the cinema (The Cross).

In 1997 she published Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, which confronted the devastating consequences of the Chernobyl disaster as told by witnesses and victims of the catastrophic nuclear power station accident. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986, is a very personal matter for the author: her sister was killed and her mother was blinded by that catastrophe. After that she adopted her niece and lives with her.

 

 

Neverthless, Alexievich said that “Voices from Chernobyl” was her easiest book to write: nothing like those events had happened before, “so people had no culture to protect them.” She began researching the book almost immediately after the disaster, in 1986, so she was able to capture raw feeling on the page. “I realized you have to follow history,” she said. “This genre works for epic stories only.” Still, the events serve to get at the hidden heart of a person. “I work to create an image of time and the person who lived through it.”

 

 

Labeled a dissident journalist with anti-Soviet sentiments, she experienced intimidation as well as harassment: her writing was subjected to censorship or banned from publication, she was publicly denounced for “defamation” and “slander,” and her opposition to the political regime in Belarus forced her into an extended period of self-imposed exile. She has periodically lived abroad, in Italy, France, Germany and Sweden, among other places. For much of her adult life, though, she has lived in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, in a nine-story concrete apartment bloc in central Minsk. Its standard-size kitchen—which is to say, quite small—is outfitted with a couch, because it’s the room where, in keeping with the Soviet intelligentsia tradition, all the important conversations happen. When Alexievich is there, her kitchen is indeed the site of many important conversations. In a 2013 interview with German television, she said she hoped the international attention would give her “a degree of protection” in Belarus, where press freedom is under constant threat.

 

She returned to Minsk a couple of years ago, admitting that her plan to wait out the reign of the Belarusian dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, had failed. This project proved too long, even for her.

 

Nevertheless, she persisted on her chosen path. She enlarged the scope of her creative vision with the publication in 2013 of “Secondhand Time”, which examined the legacy of communism in the aftermath of the demise of the Soviet Union.

"If you look back at the whole of our history, both Soviet and post-Soviet, it is a huge common grave and a blood bath. An eternal dialogue of the executioners and the victims. The accursed Russian questions: what is to be done and who is to blame. The revolution, the gulags, the Second World War, the Soviet-Afghan war hidden from the people, the downfall of the great empire, the downfall of the giant socialist land, the land-utopia, and now a challenge of cosmic dimensions - Chernobyl. This is a challenge for all the living things on earth. Such is our history. And this is the theme of my books, this is my path, my circles of hell, from man to man."

 

Alexiyevich's book have been published in many countries: USA, Germany, UK, Japan, Sweden, France, China, Vietnam, Bulgaria, India -- 19 countries in all.
She has to her name 21 scripts for documentary films and three plays, which were staged in France, Germany, and Bulgaria.

 

Alexiyevich has been awarded with many international awards, including the Kurt Tucholsky Prize for the "Courage and Dignity in Writing" (the Swedish PEN), the Andrei Sinyavsky Prize "For the Nobility in Literature", the independent Russian prize "Triumph", the Leipzig Prize "For the European Mutual Understanding- 1998", the German prizes "For the Best Political Book" and the Herder Prize.

 

Alexiyevich has thus defined the main thrust of her life and her writings: "I always aim to understand how much humanity is contained in each human being, and how I can protect this humanity in a person."
These questions acquire a new implication in connection with the latest events in Beloruss where a military-socialist regime is being restored, a new post-Soviet dictatorship. And now Alexiyevich is again unwelcome to the authorities in her country because of her views and her independence. She belongs to the opposition which also includes the country's finest intellectuals.

 

Her books add up to a literary chronicle of the emotional history of the Soviet and post-Soviet person. She continues to develop her original genre. In each new book it is employed in a new way. One can't help recalling Lev Tolstoy's maxim to the effect that it is more interesting to follow real life than to invent it. "Many things in man still remain a riddle for art," says Alexiyevich.

 

For her 50th anniversary a two-volume collection of her works came out. In the introduction the critic Lev Anninsky says: "This is a unique work, which has probably been undertaken for the first time in Russian, or rather in Soviet and post-Soviet culture: the author has traced and recorded the lives of several generations of Soviet people, and the very reality of the 70 years of socialism: from the 1917 Revolution through the Civil War, the youth and hypnotism of the great utopia, Stalin's terror and the gulags, the Great Patriotic War, and the years of the downfall of the socialist mainland up to the present times. This is a living history told by the people themselves and recorded and selected by a talented and honest chronicler."

 

 

Alexiyevich is currently finishing her book The Wonderful Deer of the Eternal Hunt made up of love stories. Men and women of different generations tell their personal stories. "It occurred to me that I've been writing books about how people kill one another, how they die. But this is not the whole of human life. Now I'm writing about how people love one another. And again I ask myself the same question, this time through the prism of love: who are we and what country we are living in. Love is what brings us into this world. I want to love people. Although it's increasingly hard to love them. And getting harder."

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text 2016-01-12 14:21
Book for February

Hi all!

 

Thank you for our last meeting! I have to say I've enjoyed the book soooo much! There are still may things to discover in this text and I believe that's what makes it a true masterpiece. I will post on our blog about it as soon as posible!

 

Meantime, I would suggest you to start reading our next book: Voices from Chernobyl by Swetlana Alexievich. It´s 252 pages, but as a non fiction it might be different for you, maybe you need more time (or less, who knows wink emoticon ).... If you have any problems with getting the copy, send me an email and I'll try to help you.

 

Our next meeting is on February, 8th. Same place, same time as always smile emoticon

 

Best,
Slawka

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