Alexievich, 67, used the skills of a journalist to create literature chronicling the great tragedies of the Soviet Union and its collapse: World War II, the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and the suicides that ensued from the death of Communism.
Her first novel, "The Unwomanly Face of the War," published in 1985 and based on the previously untold stories of women who had fought against the Nazi Germans, sold more than 2 million copies.
Her books have been published in 19 countries. She also has written three plays and the screenplays for 21 documentary films. In its brief citation the Swedish Academy, cited Alexievich "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time."
Last year's literature award went to French writer Patrick Modiano.
This year's Nobel announcements continue with the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday and the economics award on Monday. All awards will be handed out on Dec. 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel's death in 1896.