Thursday, July 13, 2006

Background on Chernobyl

Continuing our exploration of Voices from Chernobyl, NPR has archived its coverage of the 20th anniversary of the disaster here, while the Nation's review of the book by Andrew Meier contains a good background summary of the event and some interesting information about the author.  A bit of insight into her other books,
Throughout her work, she has sought to bring to light the hidden stories of the Soviet era. One of her first books, U voiny--ne zhenskoe litso ("War's Unwomanly Face"), an oral history of Soviet soldiers in World War II, which broke with the heroic narratives of official history, was suppressed for two years before Gorbachev allowed it to be published in 1985. That book and its follow-up, Poslednie svideteli (1985), a collection of 100 "children's stories" of war, sold millions of copies in the former Soviet Union and made Alexievich a glasnost celebrity. Her career hit its peak with Zinky Boys (1992), an unflinching look at the Soviet war in Afghanistan ("zinky" alludes to the zinc coffins in which more than 15,000 Soviet soldiers returned home).
Finally for all those unanswered questions, the UN-sponsored Chernobyl - Tschernobyl - Information site is worth exploring.

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