"Stylish, striking, and elegantly packaged...as indispensible to confronting, say, your domineering mother-in-law or your local city council as it is to helping foment an ongoing and ever-escalating insurrection against, say, a sexist, racist, nepotistic power-mad oligarchy threatening to destory democracy as we know it...My advice: Buy one"--VOGUE
From artist, activist, and Pussy Riot founder Nadya Tolokonnikova, a guerilla guide to radical protest and joyful political resistance
The face of modern protest is wearing a brightly colored ski mask.
Nadya Tolokonnikova, founding member of the Russian activist group Pussy Riot, is a creative activist, professional protestor, brazen feminist, shocking visual artist, and force to be reckoned with. Her spontaneous, explosive approach to political action has involved jumping over barbed wire, kissing police officers, giving guerilla performances in crowded subway cars, and going on a hunger strike to protest the abuse of prisoners. She’s been horse-whipped by police in Sochi, temporarily blinded when officers threw green paint in her eyes, and monitored by the Russian government. But what made Nadya an activist icon overnight happened on February 21, 2012, when she was arrested for performing an anti-Putin protest song in a Moscow church.
She was sent to a Russian prison for 18 months and emerged as an international symbol of radical resistance, as calls to “Free Pussy Riot” resounded around the world. With her emblematic ski mask, black lipstick, and unwavering bravery, Nadya has become an emissary of hope and optimism despite overwhelming and ugly political corruption.
Read & Riot is structured around Nadya’s ten rules for revolution (Be a pirate! Make your government shit its pants! Take back the joy!) and illustrated throughout with stunning examples from her extraordinary life and the philosophies of other revolutionary rebels throughout history. Rooted in action and going beyond the typical “call your senator” guidelines, Read & Riot gives us a refreshing model for civil disobedience, and encourages our right to question every status quo and make political action exciting—even joyful.
Tolokonnikova, a founding member of the Russian punk collective Pussy Riot, relates both personal stories and best practices for effecting change in this cogent activist's guide. In chapters titled as rules for resistance e.g., "Rule No. 2: Do It Yourself" Tolokonnikova recalls her participation in public demonstrations, including welding shut the door of a restaurant owned by a pro-Putin journalist and the Pussy Riot performance that led to her arrest. Awaiting sentencing, she learned that a simple smile directed at a prison guard was a liberating act of resistance ("Rule No 3: Take Back the Joy"). Later, while serving her two-year prison sentence for hooliganism, Tolokonnikova organized several hunger strikes to protest the inhumane conditions of Russian prisons ("Rule No. 7: Don't Give Up Easy. Resist. Organize"), a cause she has taken up since her release through founding a prison reform organization ("Rule No. 9: Create Alternatives"). Gleaning insight from Diogenes, Michel Foucault, and Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan, among others, Tolokonnikova fills her book with passion and political acumen: "The non linear logic of social movements requires activists to be attentive, sensitive, grateful, and open-minded creatures," she writes. With its stellar mix of personal experience and hard-won advice, Tolokonnikova's guide is sure to fuel social movements for years to come.
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So urgent and inspiring.