MOSCOW – Belorussian Nobel Literature Prize laureate Svetlana Alexievich woke up Thursday to news that she had died, prompting her to contact journalists to reassure them she was very much alive.
The writer, who said she was signing books in South Korea as part of a promotional drive for her published work, told Russian media that she was perplexed by the news.
“I read the news and cannot figure out who made it up and why?” she reportedly told Russian journalists.
“I am in Korea, in Seoul, at a presentation of my books in Korean,” Alexievich said.
A Twitter account created Wednesday under the name of France’s newly-appointed Culture and Communication Minister, Françoise Nyssen, posted a series of tweets in English and French saying: “A terrible news. Svetlana Alexievich dies. No details.”
Hours later, the same Twitter web feed continued: “This account is hoax created by Italian journalist Tommasso Debenedetti.”
Debenedetti is notorious for spreading lies and hoaxes, having published dozens of possibly fake interviews with notable figures from the Dalai Lama to writer John Grisham in Italian newspapers.
The Belorussian writer used her mastery at literary reporting to recount the collapse of the Soviet Union, which won her the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2015.
Her first book, “War Does Not Have a Woman’s Face” (1983), earned her strong reproach from Soviet authorities, who accused her of pacifism and naturalism.
She was unable to publish anything within the USSR until the introduction of “Perestroika,” a political movement that encouraged reformation.