The Nobel Prize, Svetlana Aleksievich, analyzes the war in Ukraine in Pamplona

The Belarusian writer and journalist and winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature, Svetlana Aleksiévich, has stated that “the person always needs artit cannot be just a tool or a weapon” and has valued the role of art to highlight the “strength” of the people who are suffering from the war in Ukraine.

Svetlana Aleksiévich (Ukraine, 1948), author of ‘War Has No Woman’s Face’ (1985), about the Second World War; ‘The zinc coffins’ (1989), about the war in Afghanistan; ‘The spell of death’ (1993), about the suicides that occurred after the fall of the USSR; Y ‘Voices from Chernobyl’ (1997), participates this Sunday, within the framework of the Pamplona Meetings 72-22, in a dialogue with JA González Sainz, on ‘The memory of tragedies and the face of the future’. A conversation in which he wants to talk about “literature in people in real life”.

At a press conference held at the Baluarte Auditorium in Pamplona, ​​the author stated that “memory is the method of reaching art”. In this sense, he has opined that “he is bringing out art, literature, from within people”.

He has remembered that in his youth, after the World War IIlived in a village inhabited only by women who, when they returned home “very tired” after working all day, sat on a bench “where they talked about the war”. Stories that were “so much more interesting than all the books“that “were state”. Stories, he stressed, that “talked about people”, like the last night with a husband who did not return, and not about the conflict. “A story where death and love are together,” he explained.

Their stories were much stronger and they were really scary, not war texts” and reflected the passage from civilian life to life in war, the writer stressed, stressing that “throughout my life these voices have persecuted me, they have followed me”. This experience was the germ of a new genre, the “novel of voices”, which was born with the idea of ​​”telling the lives of these people, the life of socialism through little people; not heroes, just people”, resulting in “very deep” stories.

Similarly, he recalled a story, collected in his book on Chernobyl, of a woman whose husband was one of the firefighters who worked to extinguish the fire after the catastrophe, received a lethal dose of radiation and was given “two weeks to live. He was evacuated to the Moscow hospital where “they did not allow him to enter seeing her husband and telling him ‘forget that he is a person you once loved; it is an object that must be deactivated, you cannot touch, caress or kiss, you cannot sit next to it.'” However, he recalled, the woman climbed the fire escape every night to be by his side ” until the end”.

“You can compare the texts that came out of these people with those of Dostoevsky either shakespeare“, he stated. “Art is in everything in life, in every person, you just have to see it and then do it,” he said.


Svetlana Aleksiévich disagreed with the statement, also in the framework of the Pamplona Meetings 72-22, by the Russian filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky, who said that culture “had failed because it had not stopped the war”. “I understand her desperation, that words fail her and reality drowns her. I understand her perfectly because they are the same feelings that I have,” admitted the author, who pointed out that “art cannot change people’s lives in a second but if there was no art, people would have been more horrible”.

“Art has to elevate everyday life”, he has stated. “It would be very difficult for us to have only the medical or political reports,” stressed the Belarusian journalist, who has opined that the Russian filmmaker “also does it.”

“The person always needs art, the person cannot be just a tool or a weapon”, continued the writer, who highlighted how, within the framework of the ukrainian war, is being able to see “how people grow; their soul grows, their strength grows. And that can make art”. “You have to talk about the great suffering of the Ukrainian people, but art has long been talking about the strength of these people,” she remarked.

In this sense, he has reported the story of a boy who was in a hidden basement and who lost his mother. When she received humanitarian aid, the boy took her to her mother’s grave, in the patio of the house. “She did it for months and all the time, when they arrived she talked to her mother,” she explained. “Only art can talk about this story and it must be done”, he pointed out Alexievichwhich has emphasized that these stories would help Ukrainians who are struggling to “strengthen” them because “somewhere, they also have their children.”

It has highlighted the “despair in the lives of Ukrainians” that they are at war or that they take refuge and “they tell me that they are not going to listen to Tchaikovsky again or read Russian literary works”. “This desperation we have to fight among all of us,” he remarked.

The Belarusian writer has recalled that, after the 2020 revolution, “I had to leave my country because they could arrest me.” “I miss my home very much and I think a lot about how we have to fight and win. I tell myself and my readers that we must not leave ourselves to despair, each one must do their job so that people, the human, win “, Has expressed.


Asked about the current nuclear threat as a result of the war in Ukraine, Svetlana Aleksievich pointed out the parallels between “insecurity” due to the situation in the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant with the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents.

He recalled the “feeling of being afraid to touch a flower or sit on the ground” in the uninhabited territories of Chernobyl because “it can kill you”. “If humanity doesn’t find alternative sources, maybe the whole earth will become this uninhabited zone,” she warned.

“We think a lot about the experience that the Chernobyl tragedy gave us”, pointed out the author, who lamented that “if we see the war in ukraine We have to recognize that we are people from the past, it is not the 21st century, we have gone backwards”, he concluded.

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The Nobel Prize, Svetlana Aleksievich, analyzes the war in Ukraine in Pamplona