A long-awaited English translation of the groundbreaking oral history of women in World War II across Europe and Russia—from the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post • The Guardian • NPR • The Economist • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel • Kirkus Reviews
For more than three decades, Svetlana Alexievich has been the memory and conscience of the twentieth century. When the Swedish Academy awarded her the Nobel Prize, it cited her invention of “a new kind of literary genre,” describing her work as “a history of emotions . . . a history of the soul.”
In The Unwomanly Face of War, Alexievich chronicles the experiences of the Soviet women who fought on the front lines, on the home front, and in the occupied territories. These women—more than a million in total—were nurses and doctors, pilots, tank drivers, machine-gunners, and snipers. They battled alongside men, and yet, after the victory, their efforts and sacrifices were forgotten.
Alexievich traveled thousands of miles and visited more than a hundred towns to record these women’s stories. Together, this symphony of voices reveals a different aspect of the war—the everyday details of life in combat left out of the official histories.
Translated by the renowned Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, The Unwomanly Face of War is a powerful and poignant account of the central conflict of the twentieth century, a kaleidoscopic portrait of the human side of war.
THE WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE
“for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.”
“A landmark.”—Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century
“An astonishing book, harrowing and life-affirming . . . It deserves the widest possible readership.”—Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train
“Alexievich has gained probably the world’s deepest, most eloquent understanding of the post-Soviet condition. . . . [She] has consistently chronicled that which has been intentionally forgotten.”—Masha Gessen, National Book Award–winning author of The Future Is History
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Svetlana Alexievich was born in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, in 1948 and has spent most of her life in the Soviet Union and present-day Belarus, with prolonged periods of exile in Western Europe. Starting out as a journalist, she developed her own nonfiction genre, which gathers a chorus of voices to describe a specific historical moment. Her works include The Unwomanly Face of War (1985), Last Witnesses (1985), Zinky Boys (1990), Voices from Chernobyl (1997), and Secondhand Time (2013). She has won many international awards, including the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.”
Read an Excerpt
“I Don’t Want to Remember . . .”
Excerpted from "The Unwomanly Face of War"
Copyright © 2018 Svetlana Alexievich.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
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Table of Contents
From a Conversation with a Historian xi
A Human Being is Greater Than War xiii
"I Don't Want to Remember …" 3
"Grow Up. Girls … You're Still Green …" 19
Of Oaths and Prayers 20
Of the Smell of Fear and a Suitcase of Candy 34
Of Everyday Life and Essential Life 54
"I Alone Came Back to Mama …" 71
"Two Wars Live in Our House …" 91
"Telephones Don't Shoot …" 99
"They Awarded Us Little Medals …" 113
Of Dolls and Rifles 117
Of Death and Astonishment in the Face of Death 122
Of Horses and Birds 126
"It Wasn't Me …" 131
"I Remember Those Eyes Even Now …" 141
"We Didn't Shoot …" 159
Of Nice Little Shoes and a Cursed "Wooden Leg 160
Of the Special "K" Soap and the Guardhouse 168
Of Melted Bearings and Russian Curses 176
"They Needed Soldiers … But We Also Wanted To Be Beautiful …" 185
Of Men's Boots and Women's Hats 186
Of a Girlish Treble and Sailors' Superstitions 197
Of the Silence of Horror and the Beauty of Fiction 207
"Young Ladies! Do You Know: The Commander of a Sapper Platoon Lives Only Two Months …" 211
"To See Him Just Once …" 225
Of a Damned Wench and the Roses of May 226
Of a Strange Silence Facing the Sky and a Lost Ring 239
Of the Loneliness of a Bullet and a Human Being 247
"About Tiny Potatoes …" 251
Of a Mine and a Stuffed Toy in a Basket 253
Of Mommies and Daddies 265
Of Little Life and a Big Idea 271
"Mama. What's a Papa?" 281
Of Bathing Babies and of a Mama Who Looks Like a Papa 281
Of Little Red Fading Hood and the Joy of Meeting a Cat During the War 290
Of the Silence of Those Who Could Now Speak 298
"And She Puts Her Hand to Her Heart …" 303
Of the Last Days of the War, When Killing Was Repugnant 303
Of a Composition with Childish Mistakes and Comic Movies 312
Of the Motherland, Stalin, and Red Cloth 317
"Suddenly We Wanted Desperately To Live …" 323
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is an incredibly moving and at the same time horrific recount of what it meant - to be a Soviet woman soldier. Once you've read it - you'll never forget it.