Svetlana Alexievich at the Conrad Festival

Readers know her above all thanks to her daring books about the overlooked and ignored history of Russia: the catastrophe in Chernobyl, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the participation of women in the Second World War, the wartime experiences of children and everyday life after the fall of communism. The Belarusian writer and journalist Svetlana Alexievich will meet with readers in Krakow during the Conrad Festival. She will join other illustrious guests at this year’s edition, including Jonathan Franzen, Hooman Majd, Hanna Krall and Wiesław Myśliwski.

The Conrad Festival is organised by the City of Krakow, the Krakow Festival Office and the Tygodnik Powszechny Foundation. This year’s edition, whose slogan is Against the Current, will take place on October 19-25, 2015.

The writer herself defines her national identity as being complicated. At various points in her life, she fluctuated between feeling Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian. However, she feels most connected with the latter nationality. In her prose, she frequently emphasises the necessity of the democratisation and modernisation of Belarus. Consequently, her books have been banned in that country. Ms. Alexievich has written numerous reportage books, including: Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, in which she describes the nuclear power plant catastrophe from the perspective of its direct witnesses; War’s Unwomanly Face, a brutally honest history of Soviet sexism hidden behind the facade of false liberation for which she won the Angelus Central European Literature Award and the Ryszard Kapuściński Award for Literary Reportage; and Second Hand Time: The Demise of the Red (Wo)man, which is a history of the socio-economic changes that took place after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Ms. Alexievich is the winner of many international awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Swedish PEN Club’s Tucholsky Preis, the Leipziger Book Prize on European Understanding and the Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize. Furthermore, she is considered to be a serious contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

We cordially invite you to a meeting with Ms. Alexievich on October 19. The Conrad Festival’s full programme will be made available on September 9, 2015.

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