Belarussian author Svetlana Alexievich has won the Nobel Prize for Literature for her portrayal of life in the former Soviet Union which the Swedish Academy said was "a monument to suffering and courage in our time."
Alexievich's work includes a series of books called the "Voices of Utopia" about individuals in the former Soviet Union as well as works on the consequences of the 1986 nuclear disaster in Chernobyl and the Russian war in Afghanistan.
"By means of her extraordinary method - a carefully composed collage of human voices - Alexievich deepens our comprehension of an entire era," the Swedish Academy said on Thursday in awarding the 8 million crown ($972,000) prize.
Alexievich, born in 1948 in Ukraine, worked as a teacher and a journalist after finishing school.
"She has invented a new literary genre. She transcends journalistic formats and has pressed ahead with a genre that others have helped create," said Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy.
"If you remove her works from the shelves there would be gaping holes. That says a lot about how original she is."
Literature was the fourth of this year's Nobel prizes. The prize is named after dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel and has been awarded since 1901 for achievements in science, literature and peace in accordance with his will. ($1 = 8.2294 Swedish crowns)