33booksforanotherbelarus 33booksforanotherbelarus

The Unwomanly Face of War


Svetlana Alexievich

About the book

Svetlana Alexievich's documentary text, written in 1983 and published in Russian in the Soviet Union in 1985, is about women who fought in the Red Army during the Second World War but who have not become part of the collective memory. They tell the author about the war, about death and killing, about dirt and vermin, about terror and war crimes, about wounds, pain and hunger and miserable equipment. And they tell about how they were forgotten. As in her other books, Svetlana Alexievich gives space to the voices of those who are otherwise unnoticed.

In view of the current repression in Belarus and Russia's ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine, Svetlana Alexievich's approach becomes even more topical. For today, too, the question arises as to whose voices are overheard in war.

The Belarusian version of the book, published by Lohvinaŭ in 2018, enjoyed great popularity, on the one hand thanks to the brilliant translation by philosopher and author Valiancin Akudovich, and on the other hand as an important sign of overcoming the division between the Belarusian- and Russian-language literary scenes of Belarus. The book was quickly out of print, and now a new Belarusian version is being published as part of the "33 Books for Another Belarus" campaign as a cooperation project between the publishing houses Lohvinaŭ and Suhrkamp. The latter also published the German edition in 2015.

About the author

Svetlana Alexievich was born in Ukraine in 1948 and grew up in Belarus. Her works, which are currently banned in her home country, have been translated into more than 30 languages. She has received many awards, including the Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding in 1998 and the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 2013. In 2015, she received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Valiancin Akudovich, born in 1950, is a philosopher, author, literary critic and one of the key figures of the intellectual scene in Belarus. Since 2001 he has been curator of the Department of Literature and Philosophy at the Belarusian College. In German, his essay is published under the title "Der Abwesenheitsode. Versuch, Weißrussland zu verstehen" was published by Suhrkamp Verlag in 2013.

About the publisher

The publishing house Lohvinaŭ was founded in 2000 as an independent publishing house and specialises primarily in Belarusian-language literature. Lohvinaŭ has signed authors such as Alhierd Bacharewitsch, Valiancin Akudowitsch, Ales Rasanaŭ, Natalka Babina and Artur Klinaŭ. The Lohvinaŭ bookshop was an important event and meeting place in Minsk. In 2013, the publishing house's licence was revoked and since then it has been operating in exile in Lithuania as Literaturhaus Lohvinaŭ.

Suhrkamp is one of the most important German publishing houses with a diverse programme of Eastern European literature, including Belarusian literature. Suhrkamp has published 5 books by Svetlana Alexievich so far, Secondhand Time, Chernobyl. A Chronicle of the Future, Zinkjungen. Afghanistan and its aftermath, The Last Witnesses. Children in the Second World War.

Production status

The book will be published by Suhrkamp in early 2024.

Links and Reviews

Online bookshop of the publisher Lohvinaŭ: www.lohvinau.by

Börsenblatt about the publishing house Lohvinaŭ: https://www.boersenblatt.net/archiv/792548.html

Deutschlandfunk Kultur on the Lohvinaŭ House of Literature: https://www.deutschlandfunkkultur.de/aus-rebellion-entstanden-das-literaturhaus-lohvinau-in-minsk-100.html

Svetlana Alexievich on suhrkamp.de: https://www.suhrkamp.de/person/swetlana-alexijewitsch-p-12806

Valiancin Akudovich on suhrkamp.de: https://www.suhrkamp.de/buch/valentin-akudowitsch-der-abwesenheitscode-t-9783518126653