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Belarussian writer Alexievich wins Nobel Literature Prize

Update: October, 09/2015 - 11:26

STOCKHOLM - Belarussian writer and dissident Svetlana Alexievich has won the 2015 Nobel Literature Prize.

The Swedish Academy hailed the 67-year-old for writings that were "a monument to suffering and courage in our time" -- tableaux of World War II, Chernobyl and the war in Afghanistan, crafted through thousands of interviews.

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko congratulated Alexievich for her win, though none of her books is published in her home country amid what the author has described as "a creeping censorship".

"By means of her extraordinary method -- a carefully composed collage of human voices -- Alexievich deepens our comprehension of an entire era," the Nobel academy said on Thursday.

The author dedicated the prize to her native Belarus.

"It's not an award for me but for our culture, for our small country, which has been caught in a grinder throughout history," she told reporters in Minsk, adding that history showed there was no place for compromise when faced with oppression.

"In our time, it is difficult to be an honest person," she said. "There is no need to give in to the compromise that totalitarian regimes always count on."

In separate comments to daily Svenska Dagbladet, she said the prize would help the fight for freedom of expression in Belarus and Russia.

"I think my voice will carry more weight now... It won't be so easy for those in power to dismiss me with a wave of the hand anymore. They will have to listen to me," she said.

Alexievich, only the 14th woman to win the prize since it was first awarded in 1901, had been the top choice among literary observers and bookies.

The last woman to win was Canada's Alice Munro in 2013. The Academy's permanent secretary Sara Danius hailed Alexievich as "an extraordinary writer".

"She has invented a new literary genre where she transcends journalism. Others have been there too but she expanded it," Danius said.

She has seen her works translated into numerous languages and has scooped several international awards.

She began tape-recording accounts of female soldiers who took part in World War II while she was working as a local newspaper reporter in the 1970s.

The resulting book, "War's Unwomanly Face", was long barred from publication because it focused on personal tragedies and did not emphasise the role of the Communist Party. It was finally published in 1985 under the perestroika reforms. — AFP

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