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0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Svetlana Alexievich Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2016 ISBN: 9781524708320
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The magnum opus and latest work from Svetlana Alexievich, the 2015 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature—a symphonic oral history about the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the emergence of a new Russia

When the Swedish Academy awarded Svetlana Alexievich the Nobel Prize, it cited her for inventing “a new kind of literary genre,” describing her work as “a history of emotions—a history of the soul.” Alexievich’s distinctive documentary style, combining extended individual monologues with a collage of voices, records the stories of ordinary women and men who are rarely given the opportunity to speak, whose experiences are often lost in the official histories of the nation.

In Secondhand Time, Alexievich chronicles the demise of communism. Everyday Russian citizens recount the past thirty years, showing us what life was like during the fall of the Soviet Union and what it’s like to live in the new Russia left in its wake. Through interviews spanning 1991 to 2012, Alexievich takes us behind the propaganda and contrived media accounts, giving us a panoramic portrait of contemporary Russia and Russians who still carry memories of oppression, terror, famine, massacres—but also of pride in their country, hope for the future, and a belief that everyone was working and fighting together to bring about a utopia. Here is an account of life in the aftermath of an idea so powerful it once dominated a third of the world.

A magnificent tapestry of the sorrows and triumphs of the human spirit woven by a master, Secondhand Time tells the stories that together make up the true history of a nation. “Through the voices of those who confided in her,” The Nation writes, “Alexievich tells us about human nature, about our dreams, our choices, about good and evil—in a word, about ourselves.”

Praise for Svetlana Alexievich and Secondhand Time

“For her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.”—Nobel Prize Committee

“For the past thirty or forty years [Alexievich has] been busy mapping the Soviet and post-Soviet individual, but [her work is] not really about a history of events. It’s a history of emotions . . . a history of the soul.”—Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy

Secondhand Time [is Alexievich’s] longest and most ambitious project to date: an effort to use an oral history of the nineties to understand Soviet and post-Soviet identity.”The New Yorker 

“In this spellbinding book, Svetlana Alexievich orchestrates a rich symphony of Russian voices telling their stories of love and death, joy and sorrow, as they try to make sense of the twentieth century, so tragic for their country.”—J. M. Coetzee

“[Alexievich’s] books are woven from hundreds of interviews, in a hybrid form of reportage and oral history that has the quality of a documentary film on paper. But Alexievich is anything but a simple recorder and transcriber of found voices; she has a writerly voice of her own which emerges from the chorus she assembles, with great style and authority, and she shapes her investigations of Soviet and post-Soviet life and death into epic dramatic chronicles as universally essential as Greek tragedies. . . . A mighty documentarian and a mighty artist.” —Philip Gourevitch

“Alexievich’s voices are those of the people no one cares about, but the ones whose lives constitute the vast majority of what history actually is.”—Keith Gessen


Read by a full cast:
Amanda Carlin  
Mark Bramhall 
Cassandra Campbell 
Kimberly Farr 
Kirby Heyborne
Hillary Huber 
Rebecca Lowman 
Jorjeana Marie 
Coleen Marlo 
Kathleen McInerney
Fred Sanders Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • Secondhand Time [is Alexievich’s] longest and most ambitious project to date: an effort to use an oral history of the nineties to understand Soviet and post-Soviet identity.”

    New Yorker

  • “[Alexievich] documents the last days of the Soviet Union and the transition to capitalism in a soul-wrenching ‘oral history’ that reveals the very different sides of the Russian experience…[Her] work turns Solzhenitsyn inside out and overpowers recent journalistic accounts of the era…She spends hours recording conversations, sometimes returning years later, and always trying to go beyond the battered and distrusted communal pravda to seek the truths hidden within individuals.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “A rich kaleidoscope of voices from all regions of the former Soviet Union…profoundly significant literature as history.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “For the past thirty or forty years [Alexievich has] been busy mapping the Soviet and post-Soviet individual, but [her work is] not really about a history of events. It’s a history of emotions…a history of the soul.”

    Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy

  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • A Time Magazine Pick for the Best Books of 2016 So Far
  • A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
  • A 2016 Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year, Top 10 Selection
  • A Kirkus Reviews Pick of Best Nonfiction of 2016
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About the Author

Svetlana Alexievich is the winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature. She has received numerous additional awards for her writing, including the National Book Critics Circle Award and a prize from the Swedish PEN Institute for “courage and dignity as a writer.” She was born in Ukraine and studied journalism at the University of Minsk.