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Riot Days

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,034 ratings  ·  173 reviews
A Pussy Rioter's riveting, hallucinatory account of her years in Russia's criminal system and of finding power in the most powerless of situations

In February 2012, after smuggling an electric guitar into Moscow's iconic central cathedral, Maria Alyokhina and other members of the radical collective Pussy Riot performed a provocative "Punk Prayer," taking on the Orthodox chu
Paperback, 195 pages
Published September 26th 2017 by Metropolitan Books (first published September 11th 2017)
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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Louise Wilson
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Activist Maria Alyokhina is not a name that most people will recognize. She was in a an all girl band called Pussy Riot. In 2012 they gained global notoriety when Maria was arrested. Her crime was opposing Putin. She was convicted of "organised hooliganism motivated by religious hatred". She served two years in prison.

Maria's memories take us through her absurd trial and her two years in imprisonment in a northern penal colony where she endured harsh conditions. She was finally liberated in an
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Brutally honest and stark. This isn't pretty prose. It's fierce and blunt. Alyokhina gives a firsthand account of her view of protest from Pussy Riot performances to her imprisonment.

I think about fate. About how many prisoners who protested have died and now lie in the ground. It is just an illusion that you go on hunger strike to achieve results. Yes. that's how it begins but, later, you realize that it's not for the imagined outcome, but for the very right to protest. A narrow sliver of a ri
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now I know that 5 stars disguises the difficulties in the writing style and at times the lack of structure but it reflects more the person, that is Maria Alyokhina and her struggle inside the Russian penal system.
She came to my attention on Radio 2, when I caught the end of her interview with Jeremy Vine. I had already requested this book as I had previously been a great reader of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and his famous account "The Gulag Archipelago" about the Soviet forced labor camp system. I w
Roman Clodia
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
'We wrote and, letter by letter, we became a revolutionary statement'

Arrested for 'hooliganism' in a Moscow cathedral, this is Alyokhina's account of her arrest, trial and 2-year imprisonment in penal camps in the Urals. Young, intellectual, self-aware, her writing is fragmented yet vivid, locating itself alongside other texts of repression and institutional absurdity (1984, The Trial): 'officially there are no political prisoners in the Russian criminal justice system. But, in official quarters
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Maria Alyokhina briefly achieved worldwide fame as as the leader of the Russian punk performance art group, Pussy Riot, after performing for mere moments in a Russian church a song disrespecting Vladimir Putin. She was arrested as a political prisoner and disappeared not just from public consciousness, but literally to the Russian gulag as a dissident. Told unconventionally often in a stream of consciousness, this is her story. The beginning is a little confusing as it is filled with prose, lyri ...more
Greyson | Use Your Words
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me an advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review.

‘We were inspired by the Riot Grrrl Movement. We called ourselves Pussy Riot, because the first word invokes a sexist attitude towards women: soft, passive creatures.
And our “riot” is a response to that attitude. We rose up against gender inequality. We wanted to create the image of an anti-fascist superhero, so we needed to wear masks.’
-Katya Samutsevich
In my hand, I hold a clear plastic bag with my
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Riot Days by Maria (Masha) Alyokhina of Pussy Riot is a fast, grim read about Alyokhina's two-years behind bars as punishment for their two-minute performance of "Punk Prayer" in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior. In Riot Days, she chronicles the days that lead up to the protest-performance, the days after, during which the band goes into hiding, her arrest, the trial, and her stay at two different facilities, one in Perm and one in Nizhny Novgorod.

In a way, her incarceration is a sort of
This one was hard for me to rate, but I eventually had to go with four stars just because Masha Alyokhina and Pussy Riot are kickass. The author jumps right into the events that led to her arrest and imprisonment; although we do learn a bit about her life before Pussy Riot here and there, she mostly focuses on the protest in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior and what came afterwards.

The writing style is a bit rough and choppy, and I think it suffers a bit in the translation at some points
Modern Russia does not seem to like dissidents. I didn't really understand what the group Pussy Riot tried to do or the aftermath of their short lived performance. Their protest against the Orthodox Church's support of Putin gets Maria two years in the Russian penal system. The prisons are dank, cold, isolated and poorly resourced. As a "political" she is isolated.
She is a protester so she protests. No matter what is thrown her way she stands committed to her principles seeking fair humane treat
Aug 02, 2017 rated it liked it
I got this book free from Netgalley for an honest review and is out on the 14th of September this year. I'm not sure if this was translated badly or just not edited well but this book is erratic to say the least. Beyond this, the story of Pussy Riot is still one that shocks me. I think this is a fascinating look not only at trial and circumstances but the moral and political sphere of modern day Russia. ...more
Jessica Reads & Rambles
Punchy, frank, and unapologetically angry. This is a big ol' feminist middle finger and I loved every word. Riot Days is structured fairly chaotically for a piece of non fiction, but rather than feeling disorienting, this works in its favour. Not neat, nor necessarily 'eloquent', it's arresting and compulsively readable. Urgent, illuminating, and strangely poetic. Go read it!

Thanks to Netgalley and Allen Lane for providing this ebook for review.
Loring Wirbel
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
The definitive concise, sequential narrative on Pussy Riot's role in the Russian opposition has yet to be written - the author's joint work with Nadya Tolokno, How to Start a Revolution, takes us part-way there, but is as much a guide for opposing Putin as it is a chronicle. But should such a history emerge, it is unlikely to carry the wallop that this brief and fragmentary prison diary does. Alyokhina's mashup style of melding quotes, government regulations, and observations of life in the Bere ...more
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent read! I recently watched a documentary about what goes on in Russia when one protests against whatever. It was quite an eye opener. Until i read this book, i had never heard of Maria Alyokhina or her Punk Rock Group, Pussy Riot. This book will stay in my mind for sometime to come. I do recommend giving this book a try.
Johanna Hammarström
"If the world is turned upside down, the truth will become a lie."
Powerful and interesting.
Nancy Wilde
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A true story of heroines, martyrs and more importantly, feminist revolutionaries. Soviet punk melodies giving birth to a raw, bittersweetly inspiring and unforgettable molotov cocktail evoking the likes of Run Lola Run and Orange is the New Black in a politically incorrect and insightful fable, shockingly revolting at times, and beyond inspiring. The gutwrenching prison chronicles will forever stay with me. A hand grenade straight to the heart, in a Russia I thought it wouldn't exist anymore. Th ...more
Maya Jagger
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I only have 25 pages left and I am on 175. I want this all to end for Masha, but not for me. Reading this comes at a funny but influential time. Three weeks before I start university. Two weeks ago Masha was banned from flying out of Russia to attend the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. You know what she did? She drove 600 miles to Lithuania via Belarus so she could catch a flight that way. Lithuania is in the European Union, and Belarus doesn't have too tight security. She was determined not to let h ...more
Nov 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Until the court case of 2012 I had never heard of the feminist group Pussy Riot (which, incidentally, does not mean what many in the West assumed it meant: a more literal translation is apparently Kitten Riot) but their trial for "organized hooliganism based on religious hatred" became a cause celèbre 5 years ago.

In protest to what they saw as Putin's hijacking of the Russian constitution and election laws, as well as the Russian church's sycophantic support of him (in direct violation of Russia
A Reader's Heaven
(I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.)

From activist, Pussy Riot member and freedom fighter Maria Alyokhina, a raw, hallucinatory, passionate account of her arrest, trial and imprisonment in a penal colony in the Urals for standing up for what she believed in. Freedom doesn't exist unless you fight for it every day. Revolution is history. If we decided to fall out of it, to disappear, that would mean it would not be our history, but theirs. Not our
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This exhilarating, if somewhat fragmented and unstructured, book is feminist activist Maria Alyokhina’s account of her experiences with Punk rock group Pussy Riot from its founding in the winter of 2011-12 to the last day of her prison term in 2013. It’s a vivid indictment of Russian political repression and its infamous criminal justice system, and an atmospheric and evocative portrait of the reality of prison life. It’s an impressionistic account, but nonetheless powerful for that and I found ...more
Becky Hodson
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alyokhina is a founding member of the notorious Russian punk band Pussy Riot. She was sentenced to prison for her political activism, something that gained attention all over the world.

This is her memoir - crazily written in a style that is not going to be to everyone's taste, this is nevertheless a fascinating read. She briefly talks about the planning that went into the protest, but focuses far more on the trial, the sentence and her time in prison. Alyokhina remains wonderfully unrepentant a
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
A riff on revolt.

This is an impressionistic account by Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina ('Masha') of her two-year incarceration as a political prisoner. In 2012, she and other band members smuggled a guitar into Moscow’s central cathedral to perform a protest song against the Orthodox church and its support of Vladimir Putin. She doesn’t elucidate as to why she’s so against them; perhaps it goes without saying. But it would have been interesting to hear more.

Whilst this sketchy account of Alyokhina
Alison Hardtmann
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-library
"Rise and shine, ladies!" shouts the warden in a voice that used to be a woman's, and bangs on the iron door with an iron key.

Maria Alyokhina was a member of the punk group Pussy Riot, and one of the women who performed their song Punk Prayer in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. Along with a few others, she went into hiding, but was eventually arrested, tried and sent to prison in a part of Russia that was formerly used for the gulag. Riot Days is her account of that time and it's fa
Powerful stuff. Maria Alyokhina has somehow crafted an anti-aesthetic that is as readable as it is discordant. The jagged sentences, makeshift form, and violent psycho-sexual imagery are skilfully deployed, showing a conscious effort to create as potent a book as possible. The book is at its best when she is most direct, there are a few moments where she is a little too "artful" and it risks disrupting the flow of the work. Most importantly, however, the story itself is unbelievable; Alyokhina i ...more
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I listened to the audiobook. The english version sounds like Alison Brie in GLOW, which is great, but sometimes hard to understand. I wasn't sure what to expect with this because Pussy Riot has little coverage in the U.S.

The protest which she was arrested for definitely seems petty. The horror she was put through was not commensurate with the "crime." But it was a story of triumph because of the reforms she was able to force through (even if they were temporary.)

The book is tough to follow tow
Neil Fulwood
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in a deliberately fragmentary style, Pussy Riot alumnus Alyokhina’s book intersperses memoir, diary entries, poetry, song lyrics, literary quotations, media excerpts and doodles to create an account of censorship, persecution and her heroic fight back against the paranoid bureaucracy and petty cruelties of Putin’s phallocentric and pseudo-puritanical Russia. Punk, feminist and 100% bullshit-free, ‘Riot Days’ is essential reading.
Anatoly Molotkov
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly moving and encouraging. Alyokhina goes over Pussy Riot's grand act for human rights as represented by several years in jail for 40 seconds of singing at the church. She also analyzes the small battles one does or does not choose to fight while in a Russian prison camp, and the cost of either choice. ...more
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
An eye opening account of Alyokhina’s arrest and prison term following Pussy Riot’s ‘Punk Prayer’ performance in a Moscow cathedral. This is a short and punchy read and Alyokhina’s poetic talent shines through, even in translation.
Allyn Nichols
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A memoir of one bands protest in Russia. A tale that brings to light the modern Russian penal system and one woman's struggle against injustice and corruption. ...more
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put this book down! So interesting, I hope to read more about human rights activists ...more
Phil Overeem
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very enlightening—and angering—account of Alyokhina’s persecution and imprisonment at the hands of Putin’s lackeys. In Russia’s grand and mournful prison-lit tradition.
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