In short chapters, Alexievich creates a sort of collage of narratives about the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Wives of volunteers; the men who undertook the work after the nuclear tragedy; old people, disbelieving of 'radiation', resentful at attempts to evacuate them; scientists, party officials, schoolchildren... even refugees from wars in other republics who chose to settle here, where land was plentiful and up for grabs, and the potential long-term consequences seemed trifling when compared to the bloodshed they had witnessed.
Immensely powerful, horrifying work, from the terrible deaths and deformities to the criminal lack-of-preparedness and lies by the authorities, as workers are sent out without any equipment, while those in power deliberately minimize any hazards. And the way poverty and misinformation cause a cavalier attitude to the risk, so that contaminated foods are still eaten regardless.
Many compared the emergency action with the war - evacuation, hospitals, soldiers, explosion. For some the War with its immediacy was far worse than this invisible menace. But others feel differently:
"People talk about the war, the war generation, they compare us to them. But those people were happy! They won the war! It gave them a very strong life-impulse, as we say now, it gave them a really strong motivation to survive and keep going. They weren't afraid of anything, they wanted to live, learn , have kids. Whereas us? We're afraid of everything. We're afraid for our children, and for our grandchildren, who don't exist yet...It's a feeling of doom."
Gives a powerful understanding of the situation in Belarus.
- Hardcover: 253 pages
- Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press (28 June 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1564784010
- ISBN-13: 978-1564784018
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 531 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)