Masha Gessen’s book, Esther and Ruzya: How My Grandmothers Survived Hitler’s War and Stalin’s Peace (New York: Dial Press, 2004), cropped up in our research while I was scouring the literature for memoirs of Russian Jews. I wanted to ensure our narrative was not a repeat of another tale. (It’s not). Gessen’s beautifully written tribute to her grandmothers was a model of honest writing and a how-to sample for weaving two biographies in one book. Later, when we focused on the Putin regime, we found Gessen’s newly released book, The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. (New York: Riverhead Books, 2012). Gessen captured Putin with her sparkling prose and insightful analysis. She offers the reader an opportunity to understand a man who seems incomprehensible. The third book by Masha Gessen that we read as background before writing Jewish Luck was Half a Revolution: Contemporary Fiction by Russian Women.(Pittsburgh: Cleis, 1995), edited by Masha Gessen.
Leslie discovered that Masha Gessen has an influential and courageous presence on the web. We both began reading her assessments of current issues in Russia as we wrote and continue to rely on her keen analysis. Gessen’s personal story is also worthy of a book as she battles the ingrained prejudices of the Russian culture against gays. She has a foot in both the American world and the Russian and has been a journalist both in the US and in Moscow. If you want to follow current events in Russia and peer behind the headlines, we suggest searching for Masha Gessen’s articles and blogs.
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