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Secondhand Time  By  cover art

Secondhand Time

By: Svetlana Alexievich,Bela Shayevich - translator
Narrated by: Amanda Carlin,Mark Bramhall,Cassandra Campbell,Kimberly Farr,Kirby Heyborne,Hillary Huber,Rebecca Lowman,Jorjeana Marie,Coleen Marlo,Kathleen McInerney,Fred Sanders
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Publisher's summary

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 30 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 from 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."

©2016 Svetlana Alexievich (P)2016 Random House Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic reviews

“There are many worthwhile books on the post-Soviet period and Putin’s ascent.... But the nonfiction volume that has done the most to deepen the emotional understanding of Russia during and after the collapse of the Soviet Union of late is Svetlana Alexievich’s oral history Secondhand Time.” (David Remnick, The New Yorker)

“Like the greatest works of fiction, Secondhand Time is a comprehensive and unflinching exploration of the human condition.... Alexievich’s tools are different from those of a novelist, yet in its scope and wisdom, Secondhand Time is comparable to War and Peace.” (The Wall Street Journal)

“The most ambitious Russian literary work of art of the century... There’s been nothing in Russian literature as great or personal or troubling as Secondhand Time since Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, nothing as necessary and overdue.... Alexievich’s witnesses are those who haven’t had a say. She shows us from these conversations, many of them coming at the confessional kitchen table of Russian apartments, that it’s powerful simply to be allowed to tell one’s own story.... This is the kind of history, otherwise almost unacknowledged by today’s dictatorships, that matters.” (The Christian Science Monitor)