The winner of this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature was announced in Sweden last night and the 112th winner is Belarusian writer and journalist Svetlana Alexievich, who becomes only the 14th female writer to win the prize. The writer, a vocal critic of the Russian government, has two books published in English: Voices from Chernobyl and Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War. In the announcement the Nobel Academy described her works as a “monument to suffering and courage in our time”.
Unlike many other literary prizes, there are no geographical restrictions to the Nobel Prize for Literature, so there are vast amounts of works for the judges to choose from. Svetlana Alexievich was among this year’s favourites, among other writers such as Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, Kenyan writer Nguigi wa Thiong, American authors Philip Roth and Joyce Carol Oates and the Irish writer John Banville.
The Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded since 1901 (with some years no award being given – during some World War 2 years for example). The award arose when Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel signed his last will 1895 and gave the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes, the Nobel Prizes. One part of Nobel’s will was dedicated to “the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”.
Previous winners have included Ernest Hemingway, Alice Munro, John Steinbeck and Doris Lessing. You can see all the previous winners here.
You can read more about Svetlana Alexievich in this Guardian article here.