Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster (1997, 2006)
The author is Svetlana Aleksievich with translation by Keith Gessen. A blurb reads:
On April 26, 1986, the worst nuclear reactor accident in history occurred in Chernobyl and contaminated as much as three quarters of Europe. Voices from Chernobyl is the first book to present personal accounts of the tragedy. Journalist Svetlana Alexievich interviewed hundreds of people affected by the meltdown – from innocent citizens to firefighters to those called in to clean up the disaster – and their stories reveal the fear, anger, and uncertainty with which they still live. Comprised of interviews in monologue form, Voices from Chernobyl is a crucially important work, unforgettable in its emotional power and honesty.
On page 32, a father speaks of an indescribable smell. He adds that papers have already written about it turning Chernobyl into a house of horrors – into a cartoon.
On page 35, a soldier describes a street, a field, a village “- all of it without any people.”
On page 72, one of those who returned said that people along with cats and dogs came back. Riot troops tried to keep them out. So they came at night “- through the forests – like the partisans.”
This is powerful material – arranged in a way that makes it more powerful as you proceed to read.