Lately I’ve been thinking about life in Russian penal colonies and how strange it must be to go from the unspeakably bleak conditions of said penal colony to appearing on The Colbert Report in the course of a few months. (Not to mention being introduced by Madonna at an Amnesty International benefit concert at the Barclays Center). As readers of most liberal media know, newly freed Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina made media appearances in New York last week as part of their visit to the U.S. to promote Russian prison reform.
For readers who have been following Pussy Riot’s story and anyone interested in contemporary Russian politics and society, I heartily recommend the incredibly vivid, engaging, and compassionate new book, Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot by Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen (The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin), which we also talked up here. Published last month by Riverhead, the book chronicles the budding activism and legal ordeals of Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina, and bandmate Kat Samutsevich. Gessen recently appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition and NBC’s Brian Williams Show to promote the book, and will be speaking and signing copies at Brooklyn’s Bookcourt on Monday, March 3, and McNally Jackson on Tuesday, March 4. Both events start at 7pm.