Blood Matters: A Journey Along the Genetic Frontier
In 2004 genetic testing revealed that Masha Gessen had a mutation that predisposed her to ovarian and breast cancer. The discovery initiated Gessen into a club of sorts: the small (but exponentially expanding) group of people in possession of a new and different way of knowing themselves through what is inscribed in the strands of their DNA. As she wrestled with a wrenchin...more
Without being sordid nor miserabilist she tells her doubt and fears (should she accept an oophorectomy? etc.) but, above all, expands her experience to write about eugenics (especially, st...more
The book is precisely written and gives a thorough, rigorously thoughtful take on heredity and what genetic testing means fo...more
In the first chapter when Gessen is recounting her mother's death and her own fears about breast cancer I was reluctant to keep reading. I was afraid the book would be nothing more than a gnashing of teeth and self pity. Fortunate...more
Essentially there are only 2 books written by women who've tested positive for BRCA gene mutation: Blood Matters and Pretty is What Changes. Both are required reading, as they are completely different takes on the subject matter.
Born into an Ashkenazi Jewish family in Russia, in 1981 she moved with her family to the United States, returning in 1991 to Moscow where she lives now. Her brother is Keith Gessen.
She writes in both Russian and English, and has contributed to The New Republic, New Statesman, Granta and Slate. Gessen is the Russian correspondent for US...more