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Masha Gessen, photo courtesy of SNOB magazine
Masha Gessen


NYS Writers Institute, March 8, 2012
8:00 p.m. Reading | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus


Masha Gessen, Moscow-based journalist and author of a new biography of embattled Russian president Vladimir Putin, The Man Without a Face (2012), will speak about her work on Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 8:00 p.m. in the Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Earlier that day at 4:15 p.m., the author will present an informal seminar in the Standish Room, Science Library, on the uptown campus. The events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute, and are free and open to the public.


Masha Gessen,
Moscow-based journalist, is the author of the explosive new book, The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin (2012). Drawing on previously untapped sources, she presents a portrait of a ruthless politician underestimated by friends and enemies alike, who has dismantled his nation’s democratic and free market reforms in order to establish himself as totalitarian leader of the “new Russia.” Gessen documents the ways in which Putin “seized control of media, sent political rivals and critics into exile or to the grave, and smashed the country’s fragile electoral system, concentrating power in the hands of his cronies.”

The Man without a faceDue 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.’”

Born in Russia, Gessen emigrated to the United States with her parents as an adolescent in 1981. She returned to Russia ten years later to make her home and pursue a career in journalism. She writes for both Russian and English language publications. A former Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard University, Gessen has written for the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, The Guardian, U.S. News & World Report, Vanity Fair, New Republic, Granta, and Slate.

Masha GessenGessen 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.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.