The Incredible Events in Women’s Cell Number 3 (aka DAFUQ)

Kira Yarmysh

400 pages Manuscript in Russian and German, sample in English Original publisher: CorpusDebut

The Incredible Events in Women’s Cell Number Three is the debut novel by Kira Yarmysh, press secretary to Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, now living in exile. It follows a young woman, Anya, who is arrested at a Moscow anti-corruption rally, and under false pretenses sentenced to a 10-day stretch at a special detention center. Her cellmates are five other ordinary women all arrested on petty charges. The women come from all strata of Russian society and get to know each other as they talk over plastic cups of lukewarm tea about politics, feminism, their families, their sexuality, their loves, and how to make the most of prison life. The ten listless days stretch before Anya, but soon she is troubled by strange dreamlike visions, and wonders if her cellmates might somehow not be as ordinary as they seem. Will the façade of everyday life ultimately crack for good? A brilliant exploration of what it means to be marginalized both as an independent woman and in an increasingly intolerant Russia in particular, and a powerful prison story that renews a grand Russian tradition, The Incredible Events in Women’s Cell Number Three introduces one of the most urgent and gripping new voices in international literature.


“Centuries pass, generations change, but novels about prison and jail, freedom and captivity, are still being published in Russia. The Incredible Events in Women’s Cell Number Three is as timely as Maxim Gorky’s Prison Hours, but a much livelier read!”—Boris Akunin, bestselling author of the Erast Fandorin series  

“Ten. Nine. Eight . . . The Incredible Events in Women’s Cell Number 3 counts down the ten-day detention of Anya, a Russian arrested after protesting her corrupt government. With every day that passes, our hearts pound faster, as the prisoners, their jailers, and Anya’s nightmares collide. Kira Yarmysh shows us the whole world through a single cell: frightening and funny, absurd and all too real.” —Julia Phillips, author of Disappearing Earth

“I almost fell into the trap of expectations and missed one of the year’s best novels. Kira Yarmysh’s novel is a striking text that reads simultaneously as a gripping story, a gorgeous gallery of humanity, a stirring tale of youth, and a sweeping and impressive metaphor for what is happening in Russia today . . . It’s just very, very cool. And whatever preconceptions you may have are probably wrong.”—Galina Yuzefovich, Russian literary critic  

“Everything Yarmysh writes about is felt ardently, sincerely and truly . . . Yarmysh turns stories seemingly lifted from the news into an account that is at once very personal, deeply universal, captivating and genuinely timely.”Meduza (Russia)  

“Given all that Alexei Navalny has faced over the past decade, it is quite incredible that his press secretary Kira found the time to write a novel. At the center of the plot is Anya, who finds herself in custody for participating in an anti-corruption rally. But behind bars she encounters not crooks, thieves and murderers, but modern-day ‘Gulag prisoners’.” GQ (Russia)  
“A very cool prison novel . . . Really captivating.”—taz (Germany)  

“Kira Yarmysh has succeeded in creating an empathetic, enraged yet often humorous portrait of Russian society.”—Deutsche Welle (Germany)  

“Highly shocking . . . what remains is the hope that the power of this disturbingly current literary work carries it far outside of Russia.”—Tages-Anzeiger (Switzerland)  

“Gives a nerve-racking glimpse into Russian prisons . . . We need to know more about our most distant neighbor. Yarmysh’s debut is a good place to start.”—Dagbladet (Norway)  

“A clear reminder of how effective a tool fiction can be, how it can give the reader insight into what the world looks like from other points of view.”—Vinduet (Norway)