Dressed for a dance in the snow

Argo, Praha, 2020
English – BUY THE BOOK
Dressed for a dance in the Snow
Other Press, New York, 2020
Vestidas para un baile en la nieve
Galaxia Gutenberg, Barcelona, 2017
Vestides per a un ball a la neu
Galàxia Gutenberg, Barcelona, 2017



TIME magazine – time.com
What I Learned About Beauty by Interviewing Women Who’d Been Prisoners of the Soviet Gulag

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – www.faz.net
Schlafen mit offenen Augen

Reviews and mentions from the press (USA and international):

TLS – the-tls.co.uk
Sickness and luck – 2/7/2020, Review

Jerusalem Post – jpost.com
Book review: Dressed for a Dance in the Snow – 2/7/2020, Review

All the Books! – omny.fm
New Releases and More for February 4, 2020  – 2/4/2020, Mention

Forward – forward.com
Screenwriter for Garbo, savior for exiles fleeing Hitler – 2/5/2020, Review

Library Journal – libraryjournal.com
Amazon Is Tracking Your Reading, and PBS/New York Times and Belletrist Pick February Titles  – 2/5/2020, Mention

Yahoo News – news.yahoo.com
What I Learned About Beauty by Interviewing Women Who’d Been Prisoners of the Soviet Gulag
– 2/4/2020, Excerpt,  *Reposted from Time.com

New York Journal of Books – nyjournalofbooks.com
Dressed for a Dance in the Snow: Women’s Voices from the Gulag – Review

Girly Book Club – thegirlybookclub.com
Dressed for a Dance in the Snow by Monika Zgustova (Review by Madhura Mukhopadhyay) – Review

What’s Nonfiction? – whatsnonfiction.com
Women Who Survived the Gulag, in Their Own Words – 2/7/2020

Book Riot – bookriot.com
Indie Press Round-Up: February New Releases and More – 2/7/2020

Foreword Reviews – forewordreviews.com
Book of the Day Roundup February 3-7, 2020 – 2/7/2020



You read this book with bated breath… Monika Zgustova, with exceptional sensitivity, chose not to interrupt the narratives of women who have lived through experiences that have marked them for life, even though they were returned alive to the world of the free…
El País (Elvira Lindo)

Reading Dressed For Dancing On the Snow makes one freeze, and not just from the cold that blows in from the tundra, but also from sheer fear. The writer, translator and journalist Monika Zgustova reconstructs, through memories and confessions, the horror experienced by women in the Soviet Union’s prison camps. To do so, she visited the survivors of this hell at their homes in Moscow, Paris and London; they provided her with material for a book that, she says, changed her life. This is the other Gulag Archipelago.
El País (Borja Hermoso)

Dressed For Dancing On the Snow a hybrid of biography and autobiography, given that Zgustova becomes deeply involved in the stories she is told, giving them a homogenous narrative form and providing them with the Slavic light that these stories require. There were moments when I myself felt as if I were part of these conversations which took place in 2008 and had also sipped a little of the strong, sweet tea that Russians like so much. An onslaught of suffering has, thanks to Monika Zgustová, turned into living memory. Solzhenitsyn would have been pleased.
El País, Babelia (Anna Caballé)

Monika Zgustova narrates the eyewitness testimonies of nine women who lived through the horror of life in the forced labour camps of the Soviet Union. Actresses, teachers, scientists, poets…rarely have we ever been able to hear the voices of these people, who learnt to survive, forced by political circumstances not to raise any dissenting views. These testimonies, so cruel and real, have now been turned into a song of freedom.
Agenda Libros

In the style of the Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievitch, Dressed For Dancing On the Snow gives priority to the voices of the interviewees, who are identified as Lot’s wife, Penelope, Judith, Minerva, Psyche, Antigone, Ulysses, Ariadna and Eurydice. Mythical heroines of the Gulag.
ABC (Sergi Doria)

A unique, beautiful and exhaustive piece of reporting which reads like an exciting narrative full of intrigue. (…) A splendid complement to and continuation of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago.
ABC Cultural (Juan Juaristo)

The book slowly weaves a thick fabric narratives and voices, of inserted poems and letters, as the interviewees’ own stories merge into those of others, like endless matryoshka dolls; some of the other people involved are well-known, like Marina Tsvetaieva  and her daughter Ariadna, or Boris Pasternak and his lover Olga Ivinskaya (the alter ego of the character Lara in Doctor Zhivago).
Revista de Letras

Dressed For Dancing On the Snow is a book full of poetry, magic and light, because even though the period they lived through was dark and shadowy, the interviewees always found energy where the reader would least expect it; but at the same time it is comforting to know that something like poetry, literature, and the other arts could help in the sense that it enabled them to daydream…
Monika Zgustova’s sensitivity is unique. 
Paseando a Miss Cultura

The result is a beautiful song to life, literature and friendship.
Todo Literatura


What took place in the Soviet concentration camps, the Gulag, has been studied far less than what happened in the Nazi camps. There have also been less witness testimonies published. And in those which have been published, almost all refer to the way in which men suffered, starting with the most important book of this type, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. Indeed, until now, not a single book has dealt with what women went through in Soviet camps.

Monika Zgustova has written the first book dedicated exclusively to the women who lived in the Gulag. And she has done so through the voices of those who suffered there. Over the last ten years, Zgustova has collected eyewitness accounts  of women who had been prisoners of the Gulag in personal interviews with all of them, in Moscow, London and Paris. It was her last opportunity to do so, given that most of these women were very much advanced in age. Indeed, many of them have since died and without this book their testimony would have been lost for ever.

The final result of this work is Dressed For a Dance In The Snow. The title refers to the arbitrary and unexpected way in which the Soviet secret police worked. Some of these women were arrested when they were at a party or were getting redy to go to a dance, and, without giving them a chance to change their clothes, took them to jail and from there to the Siberian camps, where they arrived in the snow, still dressed for a dance.

Dressed for a Dance In The Snow brings together the testimony of nine women. And it deals not only with the years they spent in the camps but also with the years before their arrests and also the years after their release, with how they rebuilt their lives.

This latter aspect should stressed, given that the book, without in any way silencing the extreme suffering of living and working conditions in the Gulag, is a celebration of overcoming, of life. In the first place, survival in the camps, achieved mainly through freidnships and the arts, of everything that continued to allow the victims to feel human. In the second place,, life after their liberation. The nine women are differing examples of how, after suffering some of the worst punishments ever meted out to human beings, decided to dedicate the rest of their lives to working for the well-being of their loved ones, their fellow citizens and humanity in general.

The book is written in a very direct style, through which author the author gives full reign to the protagonists, after the fashion of  the Nobel prizewinner Svetlana Alexievich. Among the women interviewed, the best known are Irina Emelianova, the daughter of Olga Ivinskaya who was the great love of during the last years of his life, and the model for the character of Lara in Doctor Zhivago. Olga and Irina were sent to the Gulag after the writer’s death, because of their connections to him. Zgustova also interviewed the well.known dissident Natalia Gorbanevskaya, to whom Joan Baez dedicated her song ‘Natalia’. Included in the book are some of the letters, virtually unknown in the West until now,  which Ariadna Efron, the daughter of the poet Marina Tsvetaieva, wrote to Boris Pasternak from the Gulag. And Lina Prokofiev, the wife of the composer Serguei Prokofiev also appears in the book, through the testimony of one of the interviewees, who met her in the Gulag.