Svetlana Alexievich:  If I tried to describe the stories that I heard, in my own words — there are thousands of stories. One of the books, it took me 40 years. And if I tried to describe it in my own words, it wouldn’t be the same.  If I described it in my own words, then there would be no power or diversity that was described in interviews. And life is art.  That’s what makes it different.

It takes me a long time to write every book, about seven to ten years. For every book, I interview about 700 people, and I write thousands of pages, and sometimes an interview with one person can take a few days.  So I need to create a picture.  You can say it’s like music, a symphony — out of the chaos of different stories — and that is an art in itself. You can say that every story is like a brick, and you can say that they’re not really so unusual on their own. But when you put it all together, you build an amazing building.