The haunting history of the Soviet-Afghan War from the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2015
- A new translation based on the updated text -
From 1979 to 1989 Soviet troops engaged in a devastating war in Afghanistan that claimed thousands of casualties on both sides. While the Soviet Union talked about a 'peace-keeping' mission, the dead were shipped back in sealed zinc coffins. Boys in Zinc presents the honest testimonies of soldiers, doctors and nurses, mothers, wives and siblings who describe the lasting effects of war. Weaving together their stories, Svetlana Alexievich shows us the truth of the Soviet-Afghan conflict: the killing and the beauty of small everyday moments, the shame of returned veterans, the worries of all those left behind. When it was first published in the USSR in 1991, Boys in Zinc sparked huge controversy for its unflinching, harrowing insight into the realities of war.
Starting out as a journalist, Alexievich developed her own non-fiction genre, which brings together a chorus of voices to describe a specific historical moment. This is an extract from the lecture she delivered after winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 2015, along with the opening of her book, Chernobyl Prayer