The £30,000 Baillie Gifford prize sets Belarusian author among diverse contenders, ranging from a memoir of living as an animal to a history of genetics.
Nobel laureate Sviatlana Alexievich has been longlisted for the UK’s most prestigious award for nonfiction writing for her collage of voices from the collapsing USSR, Second-Hand Time.
As the Guardian recalls, Alexievich won the Nobel prize for literature in 2015 for her “polyphonic writings”, praised as a “monument to suffering and courage in our time” by the Swedish Academy. She is one of 10 writers, chosen from more than 180 submissions, to make the longlist for the £30,000 Baillie Gifford prize for nonfiction.
Published by small independent press Fitzcarraldo Editions, the Belarusian journalist’s Second-Hand Time collects Alexievich’s interviews conducted between 1991 and 2012, documenting the collapse of the USSR in what the Swedish Academy called “a new kind of literary genre”.
“I don’t ask people about socialism, I ask about love, jealousy, childhood, old age. Music, dances, hairstyles. The myriad sundry details of a vanished way of life. This is the only way to chase the catastrophe into the framework of the mundane and attempt to tell a story. Try to figure things out,” Alexievich writes, in Bela Shayevich’s translation.