…Or, alternatively, when our dystopian fiction becomes our everyday reality.
From Svetlana Alexievich, author of
“I’m searching life for observations, nuances, details. Because my interest in life is not the event as such, not war as such, not Chernobyl as such, not suicide as such. What I am interested in is what happens to the human being, what happens to it in of our time. How does man behave and react. How much of the biological man is in him, how much of the man of his time, how much man of the man.”
“How many times has Art practised the Apocalypse, has tried out the most diverse technological versions of the end of the world, but now we positively know that life is incomparably much more fantastic.” “Chernobyl is an enigma yet to figure out. A symbol we don’t know to read. Perhaps, the conundrum of the XXI Century. A challenge for our times…The night of 26 April…During that unique night we relocate to another place in history. We made a jump toward a new reality, and this move ended up being not only beyond our knowledge, but beyond our imagination, too. The thread of time broke. Suddenly, our past becomes powerless; we didn’t find backing in it; in the omnipotent archive (at least, it had seemed so to us) of humanity we didn’t find the clues for opening this door.
Those days I heard more than once, ‘I don’t find the words to communicate what I saw, what I experienced’, ‘I didn’t read about anything like this in any book, nor did I watch it at the cinema’, ‘nobody told me of anything like this’”
“The zone…It’s a world apart. Another world in the middle of the rest of the Earth. Initially, it had been the science fiction writers who invented it, but literature relinquished its place in the face of reality.”
Voices from Chernobyl
“At first, everybody talked about ‘catastrophe’, then about ‘nuclear war’. I’ve read about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I saw documentaries. It’s horrific, but something comprehensible: a nuclear war, the radial expansion of the deflagration. This I could imagine. But what happened to us…For this I lacked…I lacked knowledge, I lacked all these books that I read all my life.”… “Show me one fantastic novel about Chernobyl. It doesn’t exist! And it won’t exist! I assure you! It won’t exist.”
“…We need more than ever new books, because around us a new life is born. But in this life we are the strange ones. And there’s no way to resign yourself to it…The television won’t educate our children, the teachers are the ones who need to educate our children.”
“…I didn’t read books like this. Didn’t watch any films. I did saw war at the cinema…For example, you write; but it’s that that no book has helped me, has made me understand. Neither did the theatre nor the cinema. I try to shed light on it on my own. By myself…My mother, most of all, didn’t know what to say. She taught Russian language and literature and she had showed me to always live according to what’s put in the books. But suddenly there are no books for this. My mother felt lost. She doesn’t know to live without books.”