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Second-hand Time

Svetlana Alexievich

Translated by:
Bela Shayevich

Second-hand Time is the latest work from Svetlana Alexievich, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature. Here she brings together the voices of dozens of witnesses to the collapse of the USSR in an attempt to chart the disappearance of a culture and to surmise what new kind of man may emerge from the rubble. She fashions a singular literary form by combining extended individual monologues into a collage of voices. Alexievich creates a requiem to a civilization in ruins, a portrait of post-Soviet society out of the stories of ordinary women and men.

First published:
Published by:
Fitzcarraldo Editions
Hardcover 702 pages

About the author

Svetlana Alexievich was born in Ukraine in 1948 and grew up in Belarus. She is  primarily a newspaper journalist, and spent her early career in Minsk compiling first-hand accounts of World War II, the Soviet-Afghan War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the Chernobyl meltdown. Her unflinching work – ‘the whole of our history … is a huge common grave and a bloodbath’ – earned her persecution from the Lukashenko regime, and she was forced to emigrate; she lived in Paris, Gothenburg, and Berlin before returning to Minsk in 2011. She’s won a number of large prizes including the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Prix Médicis, and the Oxfam Novib/PEN Award. In 2015, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Bela Shayevich is a Soviet-American artist and translator.