Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Second-hand Time (Время секонд хенд)

There are all sorts of books in this world. The best ones are those that teach us something, or leave a trace in our heart. They shock us, shake us, but do not leave us feeling indifferent. 

I have read quite a bit about Russia and the Soviet Union in my time. I have spoken to people, who have given me their first- or second hand accounts about their lives during the Soviet times. Svetlana Alexievich's collection of stories - those stories lived by former Soviet citizens - does shake me. It raises questions about the good, the bad, and the fact that it is sometimes very different to draw a line between those two. The same goes for love and hatred, empathy and indifference. These narratives paint the picture of a very complex society, where little was as it seemed. A society, whose fall was harsh indeed. 

The narratives, and the way they are told, are humane, cruel, beautiful, all at once. They are the stories about a society that was built - and destroyed - at a great cost. 

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