Masha Gessen, who blogs on Russian politics and culture for The New York Times, will be the next guest in the spring Writers Speak Wednesdays series of free author talks and readings open to the public at Stony Brook Southampton, reading from her work and being interviewed by former New Yorker fiction editor Dan Menaker on Wednesday, April 2, at 7 pm in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall.
Gessen is a Russian-American journalist and the author of, most recently, Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot. She also wrote the 2012 political biography The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin.
Prior to the Sochi Olympics, she co-edited with LGBT advocate and writer Joseph Huff-Hannon the newly released Gay Propaganda, as a response to the Putin government’s passing of a law banning “homosexual propaganda.” According to Gessen, the ban has tightened the noose around a society that has seen its freedoms in retreat since Putin entered office in 2000. The publishers released the book in both Russian and English and planned to smuggle as many copies into Sochi as possible.
As the situation in the Ukraine and Crimea has heated up, Gessen’s expertise has increasingly been in demand. For the March 11, 2014 edition of The Los Angeles Times, she wrote an op-ed piece headlined “Is Vladimir Putin insane? Hardly,” in which she maintained that Putin is neither Hitler nor crazy, but is merely acting the way he always has, like a playground bully.
Other writers scheduled for the spring series include Mark Epstein, MD, April 9, and Dinah Lenney, April 30. On May 7, the evening will be devoted to readings by “the stars of tomorrow,” students enrolled in the MFA in Creative Writing and Literature program.
Writers Speak Wednesdays programs are free and open to the public. All readings begin at 7 pm in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall at Stony Brook Southampton, 239 Montauk Highway.