From National Book Award winner Masha Gessen, the heroic story of Pussy Riot, who resurrected the power of truth in a society built on lies.
On February 21, 2012, five young women entered the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. In neon-colored dresses, tights, and balaclavas, they performed a “punk prayer” beseeching the “Mother of God” to “get rid of Putin.” They were quickly shut down by security, and in the weeks and months that followed, three of the women were arrested and tried, and two were sentenced to a remote prison colony. But the incident captured international headlines, and footage of it went viral. People across the globe recognized not only a fierce act of political confrontation but also an inspired work of art that, in a time and place saturated with lies, found a new way to speak the truth.
Masha Gessen’s riveting account tells how such a phenomenon came about. Drawing on her exclusive, extensive access to the members of Pussy Riot and their families and associates, she reconstructs the fascinating personal journeys that transformed a group of young women into artists with a shared vision, gave them the courage and imagination to express it unforgettably, and endowed them with the strength to endure the devastating loneliness and isolation that have been the price of their triumph.
Bestselling author Gessen (The Man Without a Face) chronicles the progression of Nadya Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Kat Samutsevich from their idealistic beginnings as young intellectuals to their arrest and prosecution for hooliganism as the punk rock collective Pussy Riot. The events are set in the background of Putin's Russia with its rigged elections, "bourgeois morality," and the corrupt Russian Orthodox Church that ignited a firestorm of protest. The author sets the stage with early Pussy Riot actions in Moscow Metro stations and the Red Square, before culminating in the notorious event, in which they used the performance art piece "Mother of God, Get Rid of Putin" as a form of protest at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. She details their frightening arrest and interrogation in which Samutsevich was threatened with rape and months of pretrial detention. What follows is a trial reminiscent of those from the Soviet era, with bumbling defense attorneys, pearl-clutching witnesses, a bomb threat, and a botched political action, while the defendants watched from within a clear Plexiglas aquarium. Readers visit the penal colony in Mordovia where Tolokonnikova's family travel 11 hours to sit with her for a mere two and a half. Interspersed throughout are Pussy Riot lyrics, correspondence with Gessen, friends and journalists, and the entirety of the closing statements at the trial. Gessen's manner of storytelling is exhilarating and cinematic and this important book will be the definitive text on Pussy Riot.
Customer ReviewsSee All
It's hard not to be moved
Prior to reading this book I thought the "prank" was ill advised and distasteful, hardly worth a line in the local news or a warning from a judge. I come away with a great sense of awe - how three young girls could stand up to such an insane and out of control system with clarity, dignity and self-respect. All values which the regime greatly lacks.
As disturbing as the story is - it is also a must read!