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.
Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .
Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals is about the type of unique, indestructible, and often tragic loyalty only found in families. For a brief but stunningly mesmerizing 169 pages, Twenty-One Cardinals invited me in to the haunting and intimate world of the. . .
We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our. . .
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .
It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .
As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .
It’s a rare and wonderful book that begins and ends with violence and humor. At the start of Etgar Keret’s The Seven Good Years, Keret is in a hospital waiting for the birth of his first child while nurses, in. . .
Last year, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian was an unexpected critical hit. Now, it’s just been published in the U.S. and has already received a great deal of positive critical attention. The Vegetarian was a bold book to attempt as an. . .
It’s been almost a year since the publication of Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah, but despite being included on the 2015 PEN Translation award longlist, and some pretty vocal support from key indie presses, the book has. . .