We believe that when it comes to war it’s impossible to say whose contribution was more significant. Each person is important, be it a soldier, a laundress, a cook, a pensioner, or a schoolgirl. However, experience shows that the efforts and sacrifices of some people have been forgotten. And we’re talking about women, who battled alongside men.
To change it, the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time,” Svetlana Alexievich wrote a book called The Unwomanly Face of War. It chronicles the experiences of the Soviet women who fought on the front lines, on the home front, and in the occupied territories. More than a million in total, these women were nurses, doctors, tank drivers, pilots, machine-gunners, and snipers.
Svetlana Alexievich visited more than a hundred towns and traveled thousands of miles to hear and record the stories of these women. They reveal another aspect of the war—the everyday details of life during the war that were left out of the official history.
The format of the book is unique. When the Swedish Academy awarded her the Nobel Prize, it cited her invention of “a new kind of literary genre,” describing her work as “a history of emotions… a history of the soul.”
The Unwomanly Face of War is a powerful and touching account of the central conflict of the 20th century, an insightful portrait of the human side of the war.