The Nobel was granted to Alexievitch "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time." Remarkably, she is the very first journalist to ever win the Nobel in Literature. The BBC explains,
Her best-known works in English translation include Voices From Chernobyl, an oral history of the 1986 nuclear catastrophe; and Boys In Zinc, a collection of first-hand accounts from the Soviet-Afghan war. The title refers to the zinc coffins in which the dead came home.
Now is the time for some bores to start with the why-not caterwauls. "Why not Philip Roth? Why not Joyce Carol Oates? Why not Haruki Murakami?" These are short-sighted complaints by people who can't be bothered with contemporary literature unless it's been codified into some sort of modern "canon." Nothing is more boring than canons, especially when the writer you're trying to canonize is Philip Roth.
If you look at recent history, the Nobel committee has taken to celebrating talent that is not internationally famous, or at least not commonly celebrated in America and Great Britain. That, to me, is infinitely more exciting than handing the Nobel over to authors who already enjoy international acclaim.
I don't know Alexievitch's work. I can't wait to read her.