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Svetlana Alexievich: Second Hand Time: The Last of the Soviets

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  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: February 12, 2018, 19:00 – 21:00

Presentation of an audio version of the book by the 2015 laureate of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Second Hand Time is a completely extraordinary book by an exceptional writer who has received the most prestigious Russian, European and American literary awards. Following hopeful beginnings, the end of the Communist regime and the subsequent breakup of the Soviet empire left citizens disappointed, frustrated and disorientated. The text is a mosaic of dozens of genuine voices that Svetlana Alexievich recorded on a Dictaphone during interviews with a wide range of people and turned into literature. Her interviewees testify about how they believed in the Soviet system, how they killed and died for its ideals, about the secrets and horrors of communism, about the Stalinist Gulag, war, Chernobyl... They also offer a deep probe into Russian society and help us understand its current developments. In addition, they force readers to ponder what Russia is and why it is incapable of faster modernisation. Why the popularity of the autocrat Putin is around 85 percent and why 70 percent of Russians regard Stalin as a great man. It is a book about why Great Russia chauvinism is not just still alive but, heaven help us, ever more militant.

Helena Dvořáková, Hana Kofránková and Apolena Veldová will read from the book

The moderator will be Aleš Vrzák, director of the audio book, and translator Libor Dvořák. Vladimír Pistorius, who published it in book form, will appear as a guest.

Organised by the the Václav Havel Library in cooperation with publishers Radioservis

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Diary entry for 22. April 2005, To the Castle and Back

„To tell you the truth, it’s not just Americans and other foreigners who think of me as a kind of fairy-tale prince or at least as the main character in a fairy tale; I too am often aware of something utterly unbelievable in my own destiny. And I’m less and less able to understand that destiny; at times I even see myself as a minor freak of history.“

Václav Havel:
Diary entry for 22. April 2005, To the Castle and Back, 2006

Václav Havel’s Prague