zi miei

Following her 2012 biography of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the author and journalist Masha Gessen turns her focus to the social traumas and disappointed hopes of her native country, as seen through the perspectives of the seven characters in her latest non-fiction book, The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, which was published on Oct. 3.

Three of the book?s characters ? a psychoanalyst, a sociologist and a nationalist philosopher ? possess what Gessen calls the ?tools of knowing? that are required to analyze Russia?s transition from Soviet communism to Putin?s brand of state capitalism. The other four are young people, born during the final years of the Soviet empire, who feel the lingering effects of its dissolution on their own skin: one through the murder of her father, another through her struggle with Russia?s system of political repression.

Gessen spoke to TIME on Sept. 26 about…

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