The Latest: Scholar wonders about Putin reaction to Nobel

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Posted: Oct 08, 2015 1:21 PM
The Latest: Scholar wonders about Putin reaction to Nobel

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Latest news from the awarding of the Nobel Prize in literature.

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7:15 p.m.

A Russian literature scholar says it will be interesting to see how Russian President Vladimir Putin reacts to the awarding of the Nobel Prize in literature to Belarusian journalist Svetlana Alexievich.

"Her message is very much at odds with a lot of what Putin stands for," said Andrew Kaufman of the University of Virginia, author of "Give War and Peace a Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom for Troubled Times."

Kaufman added that the fact that it is hard to categorize Alexievich's work is part of what makes it great.

"Her goal as a writer, as a journalist, as a historian, was to tell the truth about history. Her goal is to communicate the history of human feeling," he said, noting that this was very much in the mold of the great Russian writers like Tolstoy.

"What we need to focus on is the universal human message in her works," he said. "She tells universal human stories that anyone from any culture can relate to."

"The message of her works — it's really a message of humanity and a celebration of those forgotten in history...it's a powerful message that transcends politics," he said.

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7 p.m.

Svetlana Alexievich's Nobel Prize in literature is putting Belarus on the map, says Yaraslau Kryvoi, editor in chief of the Belarus Digest and secretary of the Anglo-Belarusian Society.

"Everyone is quite excited," he said. Though there has been criticism in some quarters about the fact that she actually writes in Russian rather than Belarusian, people will be more focused on what the words meant.

He added: "There are not that many things that come to your mind when you say Belarus. This will give a positive edge to what she is doing."

"I'm happy that Belarus is now on the political map of the world," he said, hoping it might inspire people to look more deeply at the issues facing the country.

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2:45 p.m.

Writers' free-speech group English PEN called Nobel literature laureate Svetlana Alexievich "a tireless chronicler of voices which might not otherwise be heard," and said it hoped her victory would encourage the Belarus government to improve its human rights record.

The group's deputy director, Catherine Taylor, said she hoped the Nobel Prize "will further highlight the civil and political injustices in Belarus and go some way to bringing about the restitution of free speech and freedom of expression for all Belarusians."

Alexievich spent several years living outside Belarus after criticizing the country's authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, who is up for re-election on Sunday.

Alexievich has called the 2011 elections that returned Lukashenko to power "a humanitarian catastrophe for the entire Belarus society."

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2:20 p.m.

The permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy says this year's winner of the Nobel Prize in literature has developed "a new literary genre."

Sara Danius says Svetlana Alexievich "is offering us new and interesting historical material and she has developed a particular writing style, as well a new literary genre".

She adds that the works "amount to a vast literary chronicle of the emotional life, the inner life of the Soviet individual, as well as the post-Soviet individual."

Alexievich is the first a journalist to win the Nobel Prize in literature, but Danius says she is "a very unusual journalist" and "her literary qualities are very striking."

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2:10 p.m.

The permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy says Svetlana Alexievich spoke only one word when she learned she had won the Nobel Prize in literature: "Fantastic."

Sara Danius says she called Alexievich some 15 minutes before she announced the winner to the world.

The Belarusian journalist was awarded the prize by the Swedish Academy Thursday.

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1:45 p.m.

Speaking by phone to Swedish broadcaster SVT, Svetlana Alexievich said winning the Nobel Prize in literature left her with a "complicated" feeling.

"It immediately evokes such great names as (Ivan) Bunin, (Boris) Pasternak, she said, referring to other Russian writers who have won the prize. "On the one hand, it's such a fantastic feeling, but it's also a bit disturbing."

She said she was at home "doing chores, I was doing the ironing," when the academy called her.

Asked what she was going to do with the 8 million Swedish kronor (about $960,000) prize money, she said: "I do only one thing: I buy freedom for myself. It takes me a long time to write my books, from five to 10 years.

"I have two ideas for new books so I'm pleased that I will now have the freedom to work on them."

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1:35 p.m.

The new permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy recommends readers unfamiliar with this year's winner of the Nobel Prize in literature to start with her book "The Unwomanly Face of War."

Sara Danius says the work by Svetlana Alexievich is a "a large, thick book that is based on hundreds of deep interviews with female participants in the Second World War, in the Red Army. She says it is an "absolutely brilliant book" that is makes for a captivating, but sometimes also dark read.

She says "it is about women who voluntarily headed to the front line, pretty much the same conditions as the men."

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1:20 p.m.

The new permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy says this year's winner of the Nobel Prize in literature "has mapped the soul" of the Soviet and post-Soviet people.

Sara Danius says Belarusian journalist Svetlana Alexievich has spent nearly 40 years studying the people of the former Soviet Union, but says her work isn't only about history, it is also about "something eternal, a glimpse of eternity."

Danius adds she is very pleased that Alexievich has won the prize, calling her work "absolutely brilliant."

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1 p.m.

Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich has won the 2015 Nobel Prize in literature.

The Swedish Academy cited the 67-year-old writer "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time".

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10:20 a.m.

The announcements of the science awards are over and now the Nobel Prize spotlight turns to literature.

The permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, Sara Danius, is expected to announce the winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in literature at 1100 GMT in the academy's Grand Hall in Stockholm's Old Town district.

Many of the names rumored to be among the top candidates in previous years are back in the buzz for this year's award, with betting firm Ladbrokes giving the lowest odds to Belarusian journalist Svetlana Alexievich, Haruki Murakami of Japan, Kenya's Ngugi Wa Thiong'o, Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse and American writer Joyce Carol Oates.

The secretive academy has dropped no hints before the announcement.