One Minute With: Masha Gessen


Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm in the gymnasium of the European school in Moscow and I can see a boy playing racquetball against the wall.

What are you currently reading?

Marco Roth's 'The Scientists'. It's a memoir. I love it.

Choose a favourite author and say why you admire her/him

I cannot [pick a favourite author] but there are a lot of books that have meant a lot to me. This year's crop includes Chad Harbach's 'The Art of Fielding' and AD Miller's 'Snowdrops'.

Describe the room where you usually write

I have a study in my city apartment with an early 20th century black desk and a multi-pane window. My study at a dacha has a standing desk.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

I identify with a fictional character every time I read a book. The last one was John Irving's 'In One Person' whose protagonist was a polymorphous perverse writer.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Marina Salye, who is in my book. She investigated Putin in the 1990s. By the time I interviewed her, she had been in hiding for ten years, in a house in the woods.

Masha Gessen's book, 'The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin', has been long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize