Tobie Mathew at Literary Review:
If one were to hazard a guess as to the largest nature reserve in Europe, Chernobyl would be an unlikely contender. And yet, over the last thirty years, a vast area closed off to all but a few tenacious babushki, clinging to their contaminated homeland, has offered a haven to an extraordinary array of wildlife, from birds to wild boar. The survival and resurgence of the region’s fauna is perhaps the only good to have come out of the unrelentingly bleak story of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster; it serves as a modest form of atonement, if not for the human lives upended, then at least for the deliberate extermination of every single pet during the evacuation of nearby Pripyat.
Chernobyl was a cataclysm of such magnitude that it is hard not to view events through the prism of a modern-day disaster movie. It is no coincidence that there are two bestselling video games set in the Exclusion Zone. The basic facts, however, are as follows.