MOSCOW-BASED JOURNALIST, AUTHOR OF VLADIMIR PUTIN BIOGRAPHY, THE MAN WITHOUT A FACE (2012)
Due to be released March 1, 2012, the book was the talk of the October 2011 Frankfurt Book Fair due to its provocative and closely guarded material. Publishers Weekly said at the time, “A Putin biography secretly lights up Frankfurt…. It was the book that, as one insider put it, you had to ‘go into a closet to read.’”
Gessen is the author of six previous books on Russia including the surprise bestseller, Perfect Rigor: A Genius and the Mathematical Breakthrough of the Century (2009), a biography of Grigori Perelman (1966 – ), the brilliant, young and eccentric Russian mathematician who solved the famous Poincaré Conjecture in 2006. The daughter of two engineers and a math prodigy herself during her Russian school years, Gessen made use of her ability to understand and explain difficult mathematical concepts in writing the book. In a New York Times review,Jascha Hoffman said that Gessen provides “a thorough account of the circumstances that led to Perelman’s rise in the ‘vicious, backstabbing little world’ of Soviet mathematics and a brilliant reconstruction of the twisted logic that might have led to his mysterious exit [from that world]. In so doing she has written something rare: an accessible book about an unreachable man.”
Other books by Gessen include The Rights of Lesbians and Gay Men in the Russian Republic (1993); Half a Revolution: Contemporary Fiction by Russian Women (1995); Dead Again: The Russian Intelligentsia after Communism (1997); Two Babushkas: How My Grandmothers Survived Hitler’s War and Stalin’s Peace (2004), an exploration of the author’s Russian-Jewish family history; and Blood Matters: From Inherited Illness to Designer Babies, How the World and I Found Ourselves in the Future of the Gene (2008). The last book, a New York Times Notable Book of 2008, is a harrowing and candid account of the ways in which Gessen copes with the discovery that she is genetically predisposed to breast and ovarian cancer, and her decision whether or not to have a preventive double mastectomy and ovariectomy.
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