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Second-Hand Time


In this magnificent requiem to a civilization in ruins, the winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature reinvents a singular, polyphonic literary form, bringing together the voices of dozens of witnesses to the collapse of the USSR in a formidable attempt to chart the disappearance of a culture and to surmise what new kind of man may emerge from the rubble. Alexievich’s method is simple: ‘I don’t ask people about socialism, I ask about love, jealousy, childhood, old age. Music, dances, hairstyles. The myriad sundry details of a vanished way of life. This is the only way to chase the catastrophe into the frame work of the mundane and attempt to tell a story. Try to figure things out. It never ceases to amaze me how interesting ordinary, everyday life is. There are an endless number of human truths…History’s sole concern is the facts; emotions are out of its realm of interest. It’s considered improper to admit feelings into history. I look at the world as a writer, not strictly an historian. I am fascinated by people…’

 

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