Image: Dr James Rodgers

An essay about Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich has landed City lecturer Dr James Rodgers an award. 

Dr James Rodgers, the Associate Dean in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, has won the John C. Hartsock Prize for his essay entitled “Making space for a new picture of the world: Boys in Zinc and Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich”.

The prize was awarded by The International Association for Literary Journalism Studies in June 2020 for Best Article in Literary Journalism Studies, a peer-reviewed journal.

“She’s got a remarkable way of telling stories through the words of ordinary people and it really resonated with me”

Alexievich was an investigative reporter and the first journalist to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2015. Her books were literary non-fiction in style and consisted of interviews with people about their experiences living in Soviet Russia. 

Dr Rodgers, who is a Reader in International Journalism, said: “She’s got a remarkable way of telling stories through the words of ordinary people and it really resonated with me.”

His essay focuses on two of Alexievich’s books – one recounting the Chernobyl disaster through its eyewitnesses, the other collecting testimonies of the harrowing reality of the Soviet-Afghan War.

“It was fascinating to see the stories being told in such an effective and compelling way”

The two events were influential to the Russia Dr Rogers was reporting on as an early career journalist. He served as a BBC correspondent in Russia for seven years between 1991 and 2009. 

He said: “It was fascinating to see the stories being told in such an effective and compelling way and I hope I’ve managed somehow to convey that. I was very flattered to have my work recognised in that way.”

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