Words Will Break Cement - Granta Magazine

Words Will Break Cement

Masha Gessen

On February 21st 2012, five members of an obscure feminist post-punk collective called Pussy Riot staged a performance in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Dressed in their trademark brightly coloured dresses and balaclavas, the women performed their song ‘Punk Prayer – Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!’ in front of the altar. The performance lasted only 40 seconds but it resulted in two-year prison sentences for three of the performers – and has turned Pussy Riot into one of the most well-known and important protest movements of the last five years.

This necessary and timely book is an account of the Pussy Riot protest, the ensuing global support movement, and the tangled and controversial trial of the band members. It explores the status of dissent in Russia, the roots of the group and their adoption – or appropriation – by wider collectives, feminist groups and music icons. Masha Gessen has unique access to the band and those closest to them. Her unrivalled understanding of the Russian protest movement makes her the ideal writer to document and explain the rage, the beauty and the phenomenon that is Pussy Riot.

  • Published: 06/02/2014
  • Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781847089342
  • 129x20mm, 320 pages

Lively and sympathetic... A vivid account of the three women's arrest and then the harrowing absurdity of their trial that summer... Keenly observed and often moving

Tony Wood, Guardian

Powerful... This is scrupulous and sensitive journalism

AD Miller, Daily Telegraph ****

Immensely readable... It brilliantly traces the evolution of Pussy Riot

Angus Roxburgh, Mail on Sunday *****

The Author

Masha Gessen is a journalist and the author of several books including Blood Matters and The Man Without a Face, which was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2012. She has contributed to the New York Review of Books and the New Yorker. She has been described as Russia’s leading LGBT rights activist, and served as a member of the board of directors for the Moscow-based LGBT rights organization “Triangle” from 1993 to 1998. She lives in New York.

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Masha Gessen on Granta.com