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Looking for a good book to read while you’re traveling in Belarus? Check out my list of books about Belarus and by Belarusian authors.
Chernobyl Prayer: A Chronicle of the Future
Also published under the name Voice of Chernobyl, Alexievich’s work of oral history made her the first Nobel Prize winner from Belarus. From A Year of Reading the World: The “book consists of the curated accounts of many of those who lived through (and continue to feel the effects of) the Chernobyl disaster. Through her conversations with people involved with the incident at every level — from local villagers and clean-up workers to scientists, lecturers, and former officials, as well as returnees, outlaws, and immigrants now deliberately living in the affected area, and even herself — Alexievich presents a powerful document that uses the horror of what happened to interrogate identity, history, and the way that this event has shaken and reshaped the future not only of her nation, but of the world.” (Recommended by Ann Morgan, author and TED speaker)
King Stakh’s Wild Hunt
From A Year of Reading the World: From “the most Belorusian of novelists” comes a novel that “unfolds 96-year-old Andrei Belaretski’s account of the events of 1888, when, as a young ethnographer, he went to the remote Belarusian District N to collect folk stories and legends. After his carriage gets mired in one of the region’s treacherous bogs, Belaretski seeks refuge in the gloomy Castle of Marsh Firs, only to find the terrors of the heaths are matched by the horrors lurking within its walls. Taking pity on the estate’s teenage mistress, Nadzeya — the last of the aristocratic Yanowski family — the hero decides to do what he can to free her from the ancient curse that keeps her shut in from the world. But, as the weeks go by, Belaretski discovers the ghostly goings-on in and around the castle are far from what they seem.” (Recommended by Ann Morgan, author and TED speaker)
Martinovich’s novel isn’t so much dystopian as it is a commentary on the country with the “last dictator in Europe.” While the plot may read like a rip-off of George Orwell’s 1984, the totalitarianism depicted is all too real, which is why the book was banned just two days after its release. Much like 1984, the political thriller focuses on a pair of star-crossed lovers whose tryst is closely surveilled by the government.
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