Kira Yarmysh has been Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny’s press secretary since 2014. A graduate of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, she has several times been arrested in connection with her work for Navalny, spent a month in prison, and is now living abroad in exile. This is her debut novel.
The Incredible Events
in Women’s Cell Number 3
Translated by Arch Tait
Grove (US), Serpent’s Tail (UK)
Hardback $27, £16.99
Order from Blackwell’s (UK) HERE
or Barnes & Noble USA HERE
ISBN 9780802160737 (USA)
Winner of a PEN Translates award
In a large barren room furnished only with communal bunkbeds, Anya
meets her cellmates: five ordinary Russian women arrested on petty
charges. They come from all strata of Russian society, and as they
pass the long hours waiting to be released they slowly build trust
and companionship while sipping lukewarm tea from plastic cups and
playing games. Above all, they talk: about politics, feminism, their
families, their sexualities, and how to make the most of prison
life. Yet as the waking days stretch listlessly before Anya, she is
plagued by strange nightmarish visions and begins to wonder if her
cellmates might not actually be as ordinary as they seem. Will the
face of everyday life ultimately crack for good?
Kira Yarmysh’s book is superb. I am happy
that my past is being recognized: I myself sat in the cell next door
(albeit at a different time), and I can confirm that all the
characters are very realistic. It also explores the secret of what
modern women think and want.
can do more with a single detention cell than most
writers can with an entire continent. In The Incredible Events in Women’s
Cell Number 3, she updates and upends the traditions of the Russian prison
novel, and in doing so, creates a startling panorama of contemporary Russian
society. The result is required reading for anyone who wants to better
understand life under Putin.
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