The book, edited by journalist and author Masha Gessen and writer Joseph Huff-Hannon, “will be distributed within Russia via underground activist networks," publishers OR Books said in a press release Thursday.
The “collection of stories, interviews and testimonial about the lives and loves of LGBT Russians living both in Russia and in exile today" was timed to come out just ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, the statement said.
Published abroad, the new collection of stories is presented in both Russian and English, and will also be available as a free Russian-language e-book. Publishers said they wanted to "smuggle" as many copies of the paper version into Russia as possible.
Like some of the authors and characters in the book, Gessen, a mother of two, who is openly lesbian and a gay rights activist, said she was abandoning her home in Russia because of the country’s anti-gay laws, including a proposed bill to remove children from the custody of gay parents.
More on the book from the West Perspective:
Earlier this summer, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new law making it illegal for adults to discuss LGBT issues with minors, calling it “homosexual propaganda.” So basically, a parent can no longer say to their child “It’s okay to be gay” without the threat of being fined and jailed. Lovely.
Still, there’s no stopping Russian author Daria Wilke from releasing her gay-themed children’s book.
Wilke’s new book The Jester’s Cap tells the story of a 14-year-old boy named Grisha, who lives and works in a puppet theater with his family and an older friend, Sam, who is gay.
Sounds pretty innocent to us.
Wilke grew up in Russia but emigrated from Moscow 13 years ago. Today she is a Russian professor at the University of Vienna in Austria.
In an interview with the Atlantic, Wilke said: “I wrote [the book] a year and a half ago, and the publisher was weighing when to release it. But when these strange laws were being released — first the local anti-gay laws in various cities, then the broader one that passed just last month — eventually the publisher realized that if we didn’t release the book now, we might never be able to. Because of these laws, in many bookstores, it has an “18+” stamp.”
An “18+” stamp on a book written for middle schoolers about a boy who plays with puppets?
Wilke says she hasn’t heard from the Russian government about the book… yet.
“I haven’t had any bad reactions from the government,” she told the Atlantic, “but then again, the book has only been out for a month.”
Here’s hoping Putin and his cronies have bigger fish to fry than trying to extradite a YA author living in Austria back to Russia to charge her with spreading homosexual propaganda to youth. Austria is hardly going to let that happen. But then again, we wouldn’t be surprised if Putin still tried