21 July 2019, Sunday, 6:16
We are in the same boat

Sviatlana Aleksievich is a two-time Ryszard Kapuściński prize winner


A well-known Belarusian writer Sviatlana Aleksievich has become a two-time Ryszard Kapuściński prize winner (one of the major prize in literature in Poland).

The awards ceremony was held in the evening on May 14 at the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw. The prize is handed for the best reporter book on important issues of the day. Warsaw City Government and Gazeta Wyborcza are the organizers.

The jury under the leadership of Maciej Zaremba Bielawski, Sweden journalist from Poland, assessed 84 books.

This year two laureates were awarded: Belarusian writer Sviatlana Aleksievich, the author of Second-hand time, The end of the red man and Michał Olszewski, Polish writer and journalist, for The best shoes in the world, the charter97.org correspondent reports.

Readers of the leading Polish edition Gazeta Wyborcza also named the book of Sviatlana Aleksievich the best.

A translator Mariusz Kalinowski was awarded a separate prize for translation from Sweden into Polish the book of Göran Rosenberg "Short stop on the way to Auschwitz".

Mayor of Warsaw Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz personally handed prizes. Adam Michnik, the editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wyborcza, and well-known Austrian journalist Martin Pollack addressed welcome words.

Sviatlana Aleksievich

Speaking at the ceremony, Sviatlana Aleksievich thanked Polish authorities for their support of Belarusians who were forced to leave their country due to political persecution at home:

- I am glad to stand here for the second time and get this award. It is very important for me and I think I am a happy person. It happens very seldom, but I can state it. For 40 years I've been doing what I want to do. I managed to do everything I planned in the youth.

I spent my childhood in Belarus and Ukraine and remember endless female chorus. As I understand now, probably it was a deep trauma, therefore I heard constant talks about the "top" people, death, those who passed away. And when I came home and settled down to books it seemed to me that there was nothing I'd heard outside. Now I am glade all those voices I used to hear in my dreams, my mind, my day and nights, and conversations have turned into words and the book which belongs to the world.

Speaking honestly I am not keen on the word "homo sovieticus". I loved my father, grandmother and all those people I met in my life to characterize them with its word. I witnessed the tragic life of several generations.

Communism is not gone. It, perhaps, is vanishing, but it carries a blood stream. Today when I see Ukrainian refugees, their faces, especially the children ones, I have the feeling of a great war.

I would like to thank Poland and especially Warsaw for support. It is only my second day here, but I have already met dozens of Belarusians, who have found here the shelter, support and companionship. Thank you for your support. It is a pity these tragic times are not over, the writer said.

Ryszard Kapuściński (1932-2007) was born in Pinsk. He was a reporter, journalist, traveler, photographer, poet and writer, candidate for many prizes and awards. In Poland he was called "the king of reportage". He worked in Africa, Soviet republics of the Central Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, wrote reports from dozens of countries around the world.