Revolutionary Books for People who #Resist

3 minute read
Author: RobertB

If you’ve already ripped through our first #ResistanceReading book list (My Favourite Novel Apocalypse), we’ve got five more recs for you, courtesy of the marvellous Alice Slater (@smokintofu). Enjoy. And then rise up…

Whilst pulling together some platitudes to introduce this rather self-explanatory list, I Googled “synonyms for ‘up the shitter’”. This tidbit regarding my writing process probably paints a far more accurate picture of the political red alert that informed this post than anything else I could say. Fiction is often thought of as an emotional blanket-fort to hide in when things go up the shitter (I didn’t find a more eloquent way of phrasing it), but when Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway rolled out her own version of newspeak – ‘alternative facts’ – the masses turned to George Orwell’s 1984 to make sense of it all, pushing sales of the dystopian classic to swell by 9500%. It’s not alone in its depiction of a world that’s coming all too scarily true, so here’s an extended reading lists of books about resistance:

The Power by Naomi Alderman

In Alderman’s bestseller, the patriarchal narrative is turned on its head when teenage girls all over the world develop the ability to electrocute others at will. The Power is framed as a fictionalised account of a real historical event, written by a man in a matriarchal society. A deliciously ironic epistolary exchange between writer and editor bookends the narrative.

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

Allende’s 1982 novel focuses on the class struggle of Latin America, articulated through a feud between two families of different social standing. It highlights a need for a socialist revolution between the land-owning aristocracy and the labourers living and working on their land, struggling to make ends meet. It’s worth noting that in The House of the Spirits, the privileged Trueba women show solidarity with the working class revolutionaries, demonstrating intersectional feminism in praxis.

Bitch Planet written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and illustrated by Valentine De Landro

When we think about representations of resistance in the comic world, we may be forgiven for first thinking of Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta – now synonymous with the ‘activist and hacktivist’ internet bros Anonymous – or Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus, a biographical retelling of the Holocaust by cartoonist Art Spiegelman. Both are exceptional, but we have another title to throw into the mix: set on a planetary prison for ‘non-compliant women’, Bitch Planet is kind of like Orange is the New Black relocated to outer space. Examining the politics of imprisonment, themes of fatphobia, gender politics, oppression, the patriarchy, race, religion and sexuality prevail.

Human Acts by Han Kang

Human Acts is a visceral fictionalised account of the 1980 Gwangju uprising in South Korea. Following a military coup, students gathered to protest the impending Chun Doo-hwan government. This protest became a massacre at the hands of the military, who were sent in to restore order. Kang’s harrowing novel follows both victims and survivors of the nine day rebellion.


It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis

Published in the 1930s, this is the 1984 for the modern era: a tyrannical, anti-immigration, misogynistic demagogue is unexpectedly elected as President of the United States. Sound familiar? Forewarned might not be forearmed, but at least we might get a small, terrified chuckle out of this satirical tale.

For more dystopian resistance nightmares, check out My Favourite Novel Apocalpyse: Trump and Brexit Edition, and for more from Alice Slater (bookseller, writer, short story columnist at Mslexia, and all round hilarious and very good person), follow her on Twitter or take a gander at her website

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