Minsk, 8 October 2015. The first conference of Svetlana Alexievich, the first Belarusian awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, on the day of the Nobel Committee’s announcement.
“My first impression after the announcement? I thought it was not an award for me but for the Belarusian culture and our country. Of course I am very happy but I feel fear as well. I feel I fall short of Bunin, Pasternak who have become alive right now for me…”.
About the Belarusian language and the ‘Belarusian World’
“I write about people in a utopia. Our nation was a part of it for last seventy years. We have been trying to leave it during last two decades. I consider myself a part of the ‘Belarusian World’ and a part of Russian culture. I am a women who has spent a huge part of her life abroad, a cosmopolite who considers the world one common space. My conviction had been strengthen by my travel to the Chernobyl disaster zone, which resulted in my book ‘The Chernobyl Prayer’”.
Awarding lifetime achievements or hatred of the ‘Russian World’?
“Some accuse me of hating not only Belarusian authorities but Belarusian people as well. It is not true. I really appreciate both Russians and Belarusians. My family from father’ side was Belarusian and therefore I consider Belarus my homeland. On the other hand my mother and grandmother were Ukrainians. I feel a positive connection with this country and I had tears in my eyes when I saw pictures from the Ukrainian Revolution and the Maidan Square in Kyiv. It is also my land. There is no hatred. I like the ‘Russian World’, the one admired by all people – Russian ballet, Russian music… Though I do not like Beria, Stalin, Putin, Shoygu – I exclude them from my world”.
About elections and the women solidarity
“I will not vote in these elections but if I changed my mind I would probably have chosen Karatkevich. Mostly because I feel a women solidarity with her and I can see her as a normal person. She speaks beautiful language, which is a huge difference comparing with other candidates. She looks normal, she wears normal clothes, she has normal reactions. I do not believe that she is a puppet candidate of Lukashenko. I do not know who is behind her, who supports her or who gives her money. But somehow I have a feeling she can guarantee a change in Belarusian politics and our lives. But in the end I just will not vote because we all already know who the victor will be”.
About the Belarusian elites
“I think that many people died too early. We really missed the writers such as Ales Adamovich and Vasil Bykaŭ. We miss their words, their understanding of life, their erudition. We have an imperfect society. But I am not a woman going on barricades, I hate barricades”.
The Nobel award: the first but not the last
“Many branches of science – physics, chemistry – have been destroyed in our country. I believe we have a lot of very talented people who emigrated , a similar situation that Russia deals with. If they had decided to stay, they would not have lived their professional lives to their full potential.
About Belarus and its place in Europe
“I have a dream of Belarus as a Scandinavian-type country. It is a dream of a small state. At least Belarus can aim at becoming more like the Baltics”.