Voices From Chernobyl

Voices From Chernobyl

The Oral History of A Nuclear Disaster

Book - 2006
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Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

On April 26, 1986, the worst nuclear reactor accident in history occurred in Chernobyl and contaminated as much as three quarters of Europe. Voices from Chernobyl is the first book to present personal accounts of the tragedy. Journalist Svetlana Alexievich interviewed hundreds of people affected by the meltdown---from innocent citizens to firefighters to those called in to clean up the disaster---and their stories reveal the fear, anger, and uncertainty with which they still live. Comprised of interviews in monologue form, Voices from Chernobyl is a crucially important work, unforgettable in its emotional power and honesty.

Publisher: New York : Picador, 2006.
ISBN: 9780312425845
Characteristics: xiii, 236 p. ;,21 cm.
Additional Contributors: Gessen, Keith
Alternative Title: Tchernobylskaia molitva.


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JCLFlanneryC Mar 19, 2020

As close to a science fiction book as any historical account I've ever read. Svetlana Alexsievich's oral history compiles many, many interviews from Chernobyl survivors, including first responders and engineers. More than merely recounting the fallout from the disaster, however, Alexsievich's interviewees are quick to philosophize, embellish, and even make jokes. The many personalities that make this book possible give it both warmth and depth. It's a beautiful book that's both a document of a disaster and a testament to the human spirit, corny but true. The variety of human experience represented in this book, the individuality and inflection of voice, enliven this book and distinguish it from other histories of Chernobyl. A dark but not completely depressing read, if you can believe it: Svetlana Alexsievich is an extremely gifted interviewer and compiler, an impressive chronicler of deeply troubled times.

Dec 16, 2019

Voices From Chernobyl is a devastating and haunting book, filled with the grieving voices of the survivors of the Chernobyl nuclear explosion in 1968. Svetlana Alexievich recorded the words, bitter, angry, or resigned, of the survivors she had access to, and turned it into a book filled with raw grief, horror, and beauty. Through Keith Gessen's translation, Canadian readers now have access to this powerful collection of voices.

One of the most striking aspects of this book, personally, was the wide spectrum of ways in which people reacted to this catastrophe. Some interviews contain unrestrained anger and scorn, eliminating no horrific details or strong words. Others reminisce their past heartbreaks in a calm, retrospective way. Others still describe the aftermath of Chernobyl as terrible, but still beautiful. Yes, a survivor of the egregious accident declares life to be still beautiful, even after all that has happened. For me, that was what brought the book together, through the steady resilience that it expressed amid the honest moments of grief. Despite its dark subject matter, this book is powerful and a much-needed work of art for many youths today, a reminder to be grateful for life in such a privileged land.

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Watch out for graphic details and strong language. - @StarRead of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

Mar 21, 2019

"People aren't heroes. We're all peddlers of the Apocalypse. Big and small."
Devastating and terrifying oral history of the Chernobyl disaster compiled by Russian journalist and writer Svetlana Alexievich, who has won a Nobel. It's a difficult book to read but a necessary and compelling one.

Yvette_LovesGCPL Oct 17, 2017

Warning: This book will make you feel things. Sadness, first and foremost. It is the tale not just of the nuclear disaster that happened at Chernobyl, it is the tale of the people who experienced it. A tale of the citizens and of their families. Words cannot properly describe this book. I highly recommend this read.

Jul 19, 2017

Harrowing experience! Just don't read before going to sleep, you will have nightmares.

Dec 14, 2016


Aug 16, 2016

Very good. Some mildly scary events.

ezhurbin Dec 01, 2015

Amazing, emotionally powerful, and raw book. I was tearing up throughout the book. It gives "monologues" from different people who had to deal with Chernobyl-villagers, liquidators and their relatives, scientists, refugees from former USSR, even party members. The scariest thing is how some refugees said that they could only feel and be free in Chernobyl; there was no other place for them. The overarching theme is the inhumanity of the Communist regime-human life was less than nothing for them. The book really makes you appreciate your life and how lucky we are who don't have to deal with such horrors.

PoMoLibrary Aug 15, 2015

From our 2015 #80DayRead Summer Reading Club traveler Kate: It takes an incredible author to turn something of such horror into something of beauty. Yet in all the interviews throughout this book, despite the sorrow and anger, lie life-affirming messages which left me with more gratitude than before.

Jan 27, 2012

I loved this book. It was so real so raw, it made me cry. This book was just a wake up call on how lucky I am. I can't imagine the horrors these people had seen. Watching a loved on die by them burning from the inside out. I just loved this book.

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Jan 24, 2020

Don’t write about the wonders of Soviet heroism. They existed—and they really were wonders. But first there had to be incompetence, negligence, and only after those did you get wonders: covering the embrasure, throwing yourself in front of a machine gun. But that those orders should never have been given, that there shouldn’t have been any need, no one writes about that.

Jan 24, 2020

Do you remember how it was in Tolstoy? Pierre Bezukhov is so shocked by the war, he thinks that he and the whole world have changed forever. But then some time passes, and he says to himself: “I’m going to keep yelling at the coach-driver just like before, I’m going to keep growling like before.” Then why do people remember? So that they can determine the truth? For fairness? So they can free themselves and forget? Is it because they understand they’re part of a grand event? Or are they looking into the past for cover? And all this despite the fact that memories are very fragile things, ephemeral things, this is not exact knowledge, but a guess that a person makes about himself. It isn’t even knowledge, it’s more like a set of emotions.

Jan 24, 2020

The mechanism of evil will work under conditions of apocalypse, also. That's what I understood. Man will gossip, and kiss up to the bosses, and save his television and ugly fur coat. And people will be the same until the end of time. Always.

Jan 24, 2020

The only righteous thing on the face of the earth is death. No one has ever bribed their way out of that. The earth takes us all: the good, the evil and the sinners. And that's all the justice you'll find in this world.

Jan 24, 2020

There’s a fragment of some conversation, I’m remembering it. Someone is saying: “You have to understand: this is not your husband anymore, not a beloved person, but a radioactive object with a strong density of poisoning. You’re not suicidal. Get ahold of yourself.” And I’m like someone who’s lost her mind: “But I love him! I love him!” He’s sleeping, and I’m whispering: “I love you!” Walking in the hospital courtyard, “I love you.” Carrying his sanitary tray, “I love you.”

Jan 24, 2020

They die, but no one's really asked us. No one's asked what we've been through. What we saw. No one wants to hear about death. About what scares them.

But I was telling you about love. About my love...

Jan 24, 2020

I'm not afraid of God. I'm afraid of man.

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Aug 19, 2016

DJDJ_at_NiiVmusic thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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