Books by Masha Gessen

NEVER REMEMBER by Masha Gessen
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 27, 2018

"A book that belongs on the shelf alongside The Gulag Archipelago."
A charged indictment of Soviet terror and historical amnesia alike. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

"A superb, alarming portrait of a government that exercises outsize influence in the modern world, at great human cost."
A brilliant if somber look at modern Russia, a failed democracy, by prizewinning journalist Gessen (The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy, 2015, etc.). Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: Aug. 30, 2016

"Though the narrative offers a depressing picture of Russian Jews, it is packed with wonderful stories of strength, intelligence, and impressive perseverance."
Moscow-born Gessen (The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy, 2015, etc.) addresses the story of the Jewish struggle for autonomy in Stalin's Russia. Read full book review >
THE BROTHERS by Masha Gessen
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: April 7, 2015

"There are no pat answers, but Gessen makes it eerily plain to see how simply an atrocity can manifest."
The bombing of the 2013 Boston Marathon resulted in a deluge of media coverage, none of which offered a satisfying explanation of why it happened. This book attempts to find an answer. Read full book review >
WORDS WILL BREAK CEMENT by Masha Gessen
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: March 1, 2014

"An uneven but revelatory introduction to the story, though certainly not the last word."
A Russian-American journalist faces considerable challenges in telling the story of a punk band that most know only by its notorious name. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Nov. 11, 2009

"An engrossing examination of an enigmatic genius."
The story of Russian mathematical prodigy Grigory Perelman, who solved a problem that had stumped everyone for a century—then walked away from his chosen field. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: April 1, 2008

"Credit Gessen with absorbing gobs of information, but this is a case in which a little learning may be a dangerous thing—for the author and her readers."
Unsettling medical memoir by a worried-but-still-well journalist who carries a breast-cancer gene. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Nov. 2, 2004

"A masterful chronicle of dark and dangerous years, and a distinguished addition to the history of totalitarianism."
A journalist's memoir of her grandmothers also paints an eloquent portrait of two totalitarian powers, the havoc they wrought, and the countless burdens they imposed on ordinary families. Read full book review >
HALF A REVOLUTION by Masha Gessen
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 1, 1995

Finally, in the post-glasnost era, Russian women are taking a stand against the male-dominated literary establishment and publishing their own anthologies—a courageous act that may turn them into heroines, if not great writers. Here, two of the nine stories collected and translated by Soviet-born freelance journalist Gessen stand as literary gems that don't require her clamorous introductions to prop them up within a sociopolitical context. In ``The Day of the Poplar Flakes,'' by Marina Paley (a 1992 Booker Prize nominee), the happiness of a young female intern is shattered on her first day in the intensive care unit when she witnesses a dying patient's deplorable treatment. ``The Clean Zone,'' by Siberian-born Irina Polianskaya, addresses similar issues through a cancer patient's eyes as she waits for surgery in a crowded room and remembers her youth in a prison camp, where her scientist father did atomic research. Tarasova's ``She Who Bears No Ill'' is also an accomplished, if overlong, Kafkaesque tale written in the early 1980s but not published until recently. The story's main character suffers from a disfiguring, degenerative disease and chooses to lock herself in a mental institution rather than live with the disgust of her family and neighbors. The six remaining stories seem like the work of neophytes compared to these. Lengthy and sprawling, they lack both focus and narrative drive. One, the most radical and explosive in the collection, is apparently so shocking by Russian standards that it has never before been published; but Natalia Shluga's 41- page ``Mashka and Asiunia,'' described by Gessen as ``lesbian fiction,'' is so convoluted, unfocused, and obscure that the lesbian angle would be entirely missed if not for Gessen's exuberant and pointed introduction. Of sociological significance, no doubt, for Russophiles and students of Soviet history; but, for most, only thinly rewarding. Read full book review >