Svetlana Alexievich was born in Ukraine in 1948 and grew up in Belarus. She is primarily a newspaper journalist, and spent her early career in Minsk compiling first-hand accounts of World War II, the Soviet-Afghan War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the Chernobyl meltdown. Her unflinching work – ‘the whole of our history … is a huge common grave and a bloodbath’ – earned her persecution from the Lukashenko regime, and she was forced to emigrate; she lived in Paris, Gothenburg, and Berlin before returning to Minsk in 2011. She’s won a number of large prizes including the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Prix Médicis, and the Oxfam Novib/PEN Award. In 2015, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Bela Shayevich is a Soviet-American artist and translator.