Belarus Svetlana Alexievich Heads Longlist For UK’s Top Nonfiction Award

Belarusian writer and Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich has been longlisted for the UK’s most prestigious award for nonfiction writing for her book “Second-Hand Time”, the Guardian reports.


The £30,000 Baillie Gifford prize sets Alexievich among diverse contenders, ranging from a memoir of living as an animal to a history of genetics.

Formerly known as the Samuel Johnson prize, the award is open to books published in English by writers of any nationality, and has been won in the past by books covering a wide variety of subjects, the British paper notes.

The 2016 Baillie Gifford prize longlist is the following:

  • Second-Hand Time by Svetlana Alexievich
  • The Vanishing Man by Laura Cumming
  • Being a Beast by Charles Foster
  • Stalin and the Scientists by Simon Ings
  • Negroland: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson
  • This Is London by Ben Judah
  • The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between by Hisham Matar
  • The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  • East West Street by Philippe Sands
  • Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey by Frances Wilson

The shortlist will be announced on Monday 17 October. The winner of the 2016 prize will be announced on Tuesday 15 November, at a dinner supported by a donation from the Blavatnik Family Foundation.

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2015 was awarded to the Belarusian author Svetlana Alexievich “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time”. She received the prize on December 10, 2015 in Stockholm.


Books by Svetlana Alexievich are seen at a bookshop in Minsk, October 2015.


Second-Hand Time is the concluding book in a cycle of five, “The Red Man. Voices of Utopia”. Gathered from interviews carried out between 1991 and 2012, the book brings together the voices of dozens of witnesses to the collapse of the USSR in a formidable attempt to chart the disappearance of a culture and to surmise what new kind of man may emerge from the rubble.

In it, Alexievich creates a requiem to a civilization in ruins, a brilliant, poignant and unique portrait of post-Soviet society out of the stories of ordinary women and men.