Chernobyl Prayer – Svetlana Alexievich
The book by Alexievich exposes numerous element of the Chernobyl disaster that I am previously unaware of. The intertwine of love, fear, and uncertainty surrounding the entire incident influence everyone. Physicists feel their previous values shaken up, cleaners felt responsible for the future of their nation, and the wife of the workers feel desperate about the future of their family. Belarus, though not where Chernobyl exactly situated, suffered the most from the explosion. An existential crisis allows the Chernobyl accident to be related back to WWI: who are the Belarusians, what are our identities, and what’s our future. This profound entanglement of the past and future as well laughing and forgetting is though-provoking. The ostensibly collectivist Soviet Union’s holes were exposed: people ultimately only live by themselves. The Chernobyl incident was deemed as something the Belarusian failed to cope with, completely new and shocking. At the same time, it is deemed as an accident that stimulates the Belarusians and enable think deeply about themselves and the future of the Soviet Union. A country of latent fatalists, filled with vodka and a suffering culture confused by the ostensible Russian identity, Belarus’s representation is manifest in the story. The past cannot protect the Belarusians anymore, like the victorious war did. The past used to have answer, but it does not have answers anymore.
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