Words Will Break Cement

The Passion of Pussy Riot

Masha Gessen

Published: 6 February 2014
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 320 pages
ISBN: 9781847089342


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.

About the author

Image of Masha Gessen

Masha Gessen is a journalist who has written for Slate, the New Republic, the New York Times and other publications. She is the author of several books, including Dead Again, Two Babushkas, Blood Matters: A Journey Along the Genetic Frontier and The Man Without a Face. Her latest book is Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot published by Granta Books in 2014. More about the author


17/08/2014, 3pm - 4pm

Masha Gessen at Edinburgh International Book Festival

Masha Gessen in conversation with Richard Sakwa on the power of Putin. The crisis in Ukraine has seen Russia flexing its muscles on the global stage. Masha Gessen, author of Words Will Break Cement, and Richard Sakwa, author of Putin and the Oligarch, have unprecedented insight into the country, and its domineering leader Vladimir Putin. They explore the relationships between politics, power, money and military. Is resistance futile? How can Russia and the West respond to these challenges to democracy?
Edinburgh International Book Festival, Baillie Gifford Main Theatre, Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, EH2 4DR

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