On 26 April 1986 the worst nuclear reactor accident in history occured in Chernobyl and contaminated as much as three quarters of Europe. While the official Soviet narrative downplayed the accident’s impact, Svetlana Alexievich wanted to know how people understood it. She recorded hundreds of interviews with workers at the nuclear plant, refugees and resettlers, scientists and bureaucrats, crafting their monologues into a stunning oral history of the nuclear disaster. What their stories reveal is the fear, anger and uncertainty with which they still live but also a dark humour and desire to see the beauty of everyday life, including that of Chernobyl’s new landscape. A chronicle of the past and a warning for our nuclear future, Chernobyl Prayer is a haunting masterpiece.
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