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Pussy Riot’s Passion

wordscementMy review, “Demystifying the media caricatures of Pussy Riot” of Masha Gessen’s Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot has been published in The World Today. Here’s an excerpt:

Pussy Riot are now global celebrities. Their cause has been featured in articles, profiles, books and films. Since the amnesty of Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina (the third member, Kat Samusevich, was given a suspended sentence on appeal) in late December, they’ve been appearing at news conferences, posing for fashion shoots and travelled to an award ceremony in Singapore. Their lives have been repackaged into simple cinematic narratives of heroic defiance to Putin’s authoritarianism.

Words will Break Cement, by the Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen, looks behind the women’s balaclavas to tell a human story. By delving into the fears, aspirations and doubts of Pussy Riot, Gessen demystifies their media caricatures.

Often it seems that Gessen was inside their heads. She almost was. She interviewed their families, friends and lawyers. They gave her letters and legal documents. Gessen sat through most of the trial sessions, and combed through the transcripts of those she didn’t. This is Gessen at her best. Shorn of the conspiracy theory of her inferior study of Putin, The Man Without a Face, Words will Break Cement is a refreshing, passionate and intimate portrayal of Pussy Riot.

You can read the entire review here.

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