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Chernobyl in Voices and Pictures

Back a few years ago, when I was at Dalkey Archive Press, we published Voices from Chernobyl, a stunning book by Svetlana Alexievich (and translated by Keith Gessen) that collected dozens of monologues by survivors of the Chernobyl catastrophe. The book is as haunting as anything I’ve ever read, and everyone who’s read this remembers certain stories, certain images that they’ll never ever forget. Which is one of the reasons why this won the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction that year.

The reason I bring this up (aside from my belief that everyone should read this book) is because over at io9 there’s a gallery of images from Prypiat today:

Before the Chernobyl Disaster, Prypiat was a thriving, modern city with a population 50,000, many of them workers and scientists at the plant. It was two days after the disaster before Prypiat was entirely abandoned, and many of the plant workers exposed to the initial wave of radiation were brought to the Prypiat Hospital for treatment, before it became clear that the hospital itself was dangerously irradiated. Unfortunately, intrusions of nature and normal decay aside, images of modern Prypiat don’t necessarily offer a pure sense of the state in which the residents and rescue workers left the city, as items have been moved and removed by vandals, looters, and photographers looking for more emotional pictures. Still, the photos offer a sense of an aging, crumbling city, and how plant and animal life can quickly take over when humans have departed.

The images are pretty arresting, and worth checking out.



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