In this magnificent requiem to a civilization in ruins, the winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature reinvents a singular, polyphonic literary form, bringing together the voices of dozens of witnesses to the collapse of the USSR in a formidable attempt to chart the disappearance of a culture and to surmise what new kind of man may emerge from the rubble.
Alexievich's method is simple: '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. It never ceases to amaze me how interesting ordinary, everyday life is. There are an endless number of human truths... History's sole concern is the facts; emotions are out of its realm of interest. It's considered improper to admit feelings into history. I look at the world as a writer, not strictly an historian. I am fascinated by people...'
From this fascination emerges a brilliant, poignant and unique portrait of post-Soviet society, built on the traumatisms of its predecessors' collapse.