Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War (Paperback)
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From the winner of the Nobel Prize for work that stands as "a monument to suffering and courage in our time" (Swedish Academy).
Before the United States' invasion, a million Soviet troops fought a devastating war in Afghanistan that claimed 50,000 casualties—and the youth and humanity of many tens of thousands more. The Soviet Union talked about a "peacekeeping" mission, while the dead were shipped back in zinc-lined coffins. In this new translation, Zinky Boys weaves together the candid and affecting testimony of the officers and grunts, doctors and nurses, mothers, sons, and daughters who describe the war and its lasting effects. A "masterpiece of reportage" (Timothy Snyder, New York Review of Books) emerges of harrowing and unforgettable insight into war.
— Claire Messud - Harper's Magazine
Alexievich serves no ideology, only an ideal: to listen closely enough to the ordinary voices of her time to orchestrate them into extraordinary books.
— Philip Gourevitch - New Yorker
What Alexievich is doing is giving voice to the voiceless, exposing not only stories we wouldn't otherwise hear but individuals as well.
— David Ulin - Los Angeles Times
A masterpiece of reportage, probably her best book.
— Timothy Snyder - New York Review of Books
Superbly translated…Alexievich’s choice of truth as hero is the right one for the age of Putin and Trump.
— Giles Whittell - Times (UK)
Alexievich is like a doctor probing the scar tissue of a traumatised nation.
— Guy Chazan - Financial Times
Alexievich put in thousands of hours with her tape recorder across the lands of the former Soviet Union, collecting and collating stories from ordinary people. She wove those tales into elegant books of…power and insight
— Shaun Walker - Guardian
Shattering and addictive…This is a polyphonic tour de force that shines a light on war, the plight of heroes, and why post-Soviet Russia is as it is.
— Kapka Kassabova - Herald Scotland
Alexievich’s ‘documentary novels’ are crafted and edited with a reporter’s cool eye for detail and a poet’s ear for the intricate rhythms of human speech. Reading them is like eavesdropping on a confessional. This is history at its rawest and most uncomfortably intimate.
— Andrew Dickson - Evening Standard
For the past 30 or 40 years [Alexievich has] been busy mapping the Soviet and post-Soviet individual, but [her work is] not really about a history of events. It’s a history of emotions—what she’s offering us is really an emotional world…a history of the soul.
— Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy