RIOT DAYS by Maria  Alyokhina


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The inside story of the Russian rock revolutionaries and the trial and prison ordeals that followed their arrest.

Alyokhina is no more a writer than she is a musician or an “official enemy of the people” of Russia, as she was charged under the Putin administration. She is an artist (whose drawings underscore the droll humor of her perspective), a mother, and, more recently, the recipient of the LennonOno Grant for Peace and the Hannah Arendt Award for Political Thought. The slapdash breeziness of this memoir shows the absurdity of Pussy Riot’s imprisonment for subversively performing a protest song in a church. The news of their arrest and the seriousness of the response to what was labeled a “criminal conspiracy” made their action all the more effective and gave it longer-lasting impact. Their first protest was, if anything, more outrageous, as they gave an impromptu performance of “Putin Peed His Pants” in Red Square while setting fire to “a poster of Putin kissing Qaddafi.” “The cops got us afterwards for trespassing,” she writes. “We told them we were drama students.” Their next performance had more serious consequences, as they performed inside a church, shooting a video that they would post on the internet of a performance of a song with the lyric, “Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Be a feminist! Be a feminist!” They escaped from the church, but once the video went viral, the search intensified as the band mates conducted interviews by cellphone from coffee shops or wherever else they stopped while on the run. However, they refused to leave Russia because “revolution is a story. If we fell out of it, disappeared, it would be their story, not ours.” Here, the author reclaims and extends that story, showing how one woman’s refusal to stop agitating, even while incarcerated, gave the Russian government a lot more trouble than it had anticipated.

An inspirational memoir about youthful idealism and the power of popular culture to challenge the status quo.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-250-16492-6
Page count: 200pp
Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2017


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