Visiting Writers Series: Masha Gessen
National Book Award Winning Journalist
February 29, 2024 – 7:30 PM
Schrott Center for the Arts
One of our most trenchant observers of democracy, Masha Gessen is the author of 11 books, including the National Book Award-winning The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia and The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. A staff writer at The New Yorker, they have covered political subjects including Russia, L.G.B.T. rights, Vladamir Putin, Donald Trump, and the rise of autocracy, among others.
Gessen’s latest book, Surviving Autocracy, is a bracing overview of the calamitous trajectory of American democracy under the Trump Administration. The book garnered starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Booklist. Gessen’s understanding of the events and forces that have wracked Russia in recent times is unparalleled and fully evident in the National Book Award-winning The Future Is History. The Washington Post described it as “ambitious, timely, insightful and unsparing.” The book was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and was awarded the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism and the 2017 National Book Award for Nonfiction. The Man Without a Face, a New York Times bestseller, is a chilling account of how a low-level, small-minded KGB operative ascended to the Russian presidency and, in an astonishingly short time, destroyed years of progress and made his country once more a threat to his own people and to the world. As a journalist living in Moscow, Gessen has experienced this history firsthand, prompting The Wall Street Journal to praise, “In a country where journalists critical of the government have a way of meeting untimely deaths, Gessen has shown remarkable courage in researching and writing this unflinching indictment of the most popular man in Russia.”
Masha Gessen has contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post, Harper’s, The New York Review of Books, Vanity Fair, and Slate, among other publications. Gessen served as a trustee and vice president of PEN America and was the advisor to and inspiration for PEN America’s Russian Independent Media Archive, a digital archive focused on preserving the last two decades of independent Russian journalism. Gessen is a staff writer at The New Yorker. They have taught at Amherst, Oberlin, and Bard Colleges and in Fall 2023 joined the faculty at Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY as their first Distinguished Professor. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, a Nieman Fellowship, the Hitchens Prize, and the Overseas Press Club Award for Best Commentary, Gessen has lived in New York since 2013 after more than 20 years as a journalist and editor in Moscow.