Svetlana Alexievich wins the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature.
An investigative journalist from Belarus, Alexievich is the 14th woman to win this prestigious prize and the first female Russian writer to do so.
What is unusual about her winning the prize for literature is that her writing is non-fiction.
Literature is just a fancy word for writing says Philip Gourevitch in his The NewYorker article titled Non Fiction Deserves a Nobel.
In the unimaginable aftershock of the Second World War the German philosopher Theodor W. Adorno made the famous statement, ‘To write poetry after Auschwitz is impossible.’ It was Nelly Sachs, more than anyone else, who showed that it was not only possible, it was necessary.
With the burial of your head
seed capsule of dreams
with endless resignation
ready now to sow in another country.
turned round to mother earth –
The Berlin-born Jewish poet (1891-1970) was arrested and interrogated by the Gestapo in 1938, and in 1940, after being summoned to report to a “work camp,” she narrowly escaped to the neutral country of Sweden with her mother. Throughout the war they lived in poverty, occupying a one-room apartment in Stockholm. Sachs penned poetry that bears witness to the Holocaust and the tragedy of the Jewish people with words that were also universal, symbolic of the suffering and redemption of all humanity.
On the day of her seventy-fifth birthday, Nelly Sachs was awarded the 1966 Nobel Prize in Literature. She gave the money away, half of it to the needy, half to the friend who had arranged to get her out of Germany in 1940.
At her Nobel reception, Ingvar Andersson of the Swedish Academy made the following comments to her:
Mistral’s works, both in verse and prose, deal with the basic passion of love as seen in the various relationships of mother and offspring, man and woman, individual and humankind, soul and God.
A dedicated educator and an engaged and committed intellectual, Mistral defended the rights of children, women, and the poor; the freedoms of democracy; and the need for peace in times of social, political, and ideological conflicts, not only in Latin America but in the whole world. She always took the side of those who were mistreated by society: children, women, Native Americans, Jews, war victims, workers, and the poor, and she tried to speak for them through her poetry, her many newspaper articles, her letters, and her talks and actions as Chilean representative in international organizations.
But it is her poems on food that I most love as shown in these delicious samples: