good novels with good political or working class content

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Nate's picture
Nate
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Jan 14 2008 07:30
good novels with good political or working class content

Name some. I can think of two off the top of my head.

Q, by Luther Blissett. It reads like a spy novel, real fun read, and it's all about peasant class conflict.

The Unseen, by Nanni Balestini. Set during social unrest in Italy the early 70s. A little arty (all the paragraphs are exactly the same length, punctuation is weird), really enjoyable none the less

Others?

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Jan 14 2008 07:32

Germinal, Zola

Devrim

Peter Good
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Jan 14 2008 07:59

Diary of a Bad Year by J M Coetzee (2007). Read page 11 before buying.

Peter Good(TCA)

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the button
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Jan 14 2008 08:17

A fine balance -- Rohinton Mishtry

Deezer
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Jan 14 2008 10:13

Um, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist.

Stuff by Jack London.

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Jan 14 2008 11:40

The Dispossessed - Le Guin

Vaneigemappreci...
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Jan 14 2008 11:59

yeah jack london-the iron heel

anna x
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Jan 14 2008 12:53

I remember having to read 1984 and Animal Farm at school. I enjoyed them but the underlying messages were kinda wasted on me at that age - slow learner me embarrassed
Ruth Park wrote a couple of good novels too, written in and set in the 1940's about a Catholic Irish family of battlers in Sydney's slums - their trials and tribulations. There's a trilogy of Missus, Harp in the South, and Poor Man's Orange. We read these at school too.
all the best.
gregg.

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pingtiao
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Jan 14 2008 14:18
the button wrote:
A fine balance -- Rohinton Mishtry

I'm just reading that now- very readable- supposedly a fairly sad book too

Alex...
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Jan 14 2008 14:43

Seven Red Sundays by Ramon Sender. Bit mental in parts but good.

j.rogue
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Jan 14 2008 16:51

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Mike Harman
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Jan 14 2008 17:16

Is any of that Iain Banks stuff actually any good?

I hardly ever read fiction, nice thread idea Nate.

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Jan 14 2008 21:29

Catch, I rarely read fiction too. I thought of it after someone (Ernie maybe? too lazy to check just now) recommended a novel I'd never heard of in the "recommend me some books" thread, said it had some political content. I thought, hey I'd like to know about more novels like that. The only one that I've read of people's recommendations here so far is The Iron Heel.

Some more that I thought of - most anything I've read by John Steinbeck and I think Nelson Algren too. I read a book by B Traven that was good too... The Cotton Pickers.

j.rogue
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Jan 14 2008 21:39

If you are at all interested in sci fi then there is this list of recommendations.

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Jan 14 2008 22:24
Nate wrote:
Some more that I thought of - most anything I've read by John Steinbeck and I think Nelson Algren too. I read a book by B Traven that was good too... The Cotton Pickers.

I randomly came across Cyril Smith's Amazon book list a few months ago. He had the Grapes of Wrath on there, and put a comment to the effect of 'Steinbeck seems to understand socialism better than many so-called Marxists'. Haven't read it in years, but think that might actually be my favourite fiction book.

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Jan 14 2008 22:39

Novels are anti-working-class.

Kim Müller
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Jan 14 2008 23:06

I haven´t read it myself yet. But many have told me that George Orwells Down and out in Paris and London is good

Utter
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Jan 14 2008 23:11

Grapes of Wrath (...) and Dubious battle (about work, a strike and communist agitators)by Steinbeck

Under the North Star by Veinö Linna - a great epic around the finish revolution 1917.

Letters of Insurgents, Fredy Perlman (http://libcom.org/forums/thought/letters-insurgents-fredy-perlman-21102007)

Down and under in Paris and London (life as a poor restaurant worker and as a bum), Geroge Orwell

My Mother Gets Married, Church Wedding and The King's Roses by Moa Martinson (work, family, misery and a couple of revolutionaries in Sweden in the beginning of the 20th century)

Five Days in June, Stefan Heym (the uprising in East Germany 1953)

tastybrain
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Jan 14 2008 23:15

I'm writing one grin

I like Kevin Keating's short stories, especially The Man In the Box

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Jan 14 2008 23:49

I'd really recommend 'Kiddar's Luck' by Jack Common (long out of print) - an autobiography of a working class childhood in Newcastle in the early 1900s.

Utter wrote:
Grapes of Wrath (...) and Dubious battle (about work, a strike and communist agitators)by Steinbeck

Here's what Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz says in 'Red Dirt - growing up Okie' about Steinbeck;

Quote:
Steinbeck's great novel was fueled by myth, but the writer did not create the myth; he merely reported and dramatized it. He told our story, our mythology In a 1936 essay published before the novel, 'Their Blood Is Strong,' Steinbeck focused on the racial superiority of the Okie migrants, portraying us as preindustrial and deeply democratic:
Quote:
Having been brought up in the prairies where industrialization never penetrated, they have jumped with no transition from the old agrarian, self-containing farm, where nearly everything used was raised or manufactured, to a system of agriculture so industrialized that the man who plants a crop does not often see, let alone harvest, the fruit of his planting, where the migrant has no contact with the growing cycle ... They have come from the little farm districts where democracy was not only possible but inevitable, where popular government, whether practiced in the Grange, in church organization or in local government, was the responsibility of every man.

Steinbeck imagined a life in Oklahoma that had never existed. Oklahoma settlers, as Dan Morgan observes in his 1992 history Rising in the West: The True Story of an 'Okie' Family from the Great Depression Through the Reagan Years, were not innocent of industrialization: the whole area had long been one vast oil field and refinery, and coal mines were worked alongside fields of cotton and wheat cash crops. Even more romantic is Steinbeck's portrayal of town-hall democracy, when what my forebears experienced was powerlessness under the boost of 'elected' gangster rings who robbed the public coffers. Morgan convincingly portrays rural Oklahoma settlers, mostly dispossessed of their small holdings, as tramping between mines, smelters and refineries, and as tenant farmers raising cash crops.

That's the true story of my family and of the Okies, although we dream of a paradise that we wish had existed and might be recovered. But there was the land, and the love of the land.

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Jan 14 2008 23:54

Blackball 08 by Eric Beardsley. It's a historical novel about coal miners in New Zealand and the formation of the first unions (with Wobbly involvement) etc etc. Unfortunately, most of the people involved ended up helping to found the Labour Party and became ministers...still, its a good read.

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Jan 15 2008 00:17

Un homme de trop is good, there should be an english translation somewhere there's a film too.
About the nature of power and pity and their place within armed resistance.
Orwell's good. Coming up for air is a good depiction of a certain class at a certain time.
Les Justes by Camus (the Just) is a good play.
The Devils by Dostoyevsky.

ernie
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Jan 15 2008 09:34

Nate

It was me who recommended Life and Fate, I have not finished it yet but it just gets better and better.
Other books;
A directly political trilogy: Victor Serge's Victory-in-defeat, Defeat-in victory. Not read it all, but Serge is usually a good writer.
More general novels;
- Kes, by Alan Silito. The film is excellent but the book is better. It is the story of a 15 year old boy's life in a mining town, and his training of a Kestrel
- the loneliness of the long distance runner, not sure on the author. Had to read it at school and it has stayed with me since.
- This sporting life, Author?, powerful story of love and the brutality of professional rugby
- Saturday night Sunday morning, Author ?, the story of a factory workers various love affairs in 1960's Midlands, powerful stuff
-Stienbeck, Cannery row is my favorite; very human and moving. The Grapes of Wrath is also very good, but the end is one of the most depressing and demoralising, though extremely moving I have ever read.
- Most of Dickens. Little Dorrit is excellent and has a very interesting plot about the reality of speculation in the 1850's (I think, it was the 50's). The short story: The Chimes is very good and a truely blistering attack on the moral hypocrisy of the middle classes
- Most things by Hardy. Jude the Obscure, is a powerful story of the crushing of a plougman's ambitions to go to Oxford university by the class system, be warned some episodes in it are almost unbearable. It is not a cheerful read but it is very moving. Far from the Madding crowd, is just simply a beautiful novel about love, longing and the pain of unrequited love; the opening is one of the most beautiful I have read.

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Jan 15 2008 12:12
ernie wrote:
A directly political trilogy: Victor Serge's Victory-in-defeat, Defeat-in victory. Not read it all, but Serge is usually a good writer.

I have; Men in Prison, Birth of our Power, and Conquered City, absolutely superb (actually the first is in my opinion the weakest)

Devrim

Pepe
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Jan 15 2008 12:20
Boulcolonialboy wrote:
Um, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist.

I just finished reading that. Politics might not be very radical but it is really funny and a good read. My favourite character is the Semi-drunk.

Utter
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Jan 15 2008 15:22

Red Marut: I didn’t read in any romanticising about people from Oakland and their past way of life in any either Grapes of Wrath or Dubious Battle. I think they both are great stories about people and about living in this, that is not only in California during the thirties, society. The symbolic description of capital in chapter five in Grapes of Wrath is one of the best I´ve read and both books are filled with these small occasions of comradeship that one time will overthrow this society. Maybe if you’ve grown up in it you read the books different, maybe if you are an academic you read them different. I think Steinbeck is really worth reading though.

The German revolution by Alfred Döblin and Seven red Sundays by Sender (a novel around the Spanish revolution) are on my reading list but I haven’t yet read them.

And if you only read swedish their would be loads of book;)

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Jan 15 2008 15:28

GB84 by David Peace is meant to be good (set in the '84/5 uk miners strike). it's sat on my shelf waiting for me to get over my aversion to fiction.

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Jan 15 2008 15:29
Utter wrote:
Maybe if you’ve grown up in it you read the books different, maybe if you are an academic you read them different.

Ret isn't, btw.

Battlescarred
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Jan 15 2008 15:38

Victor Serge was an arsehole but a great novelist and Birth of Our Power, Men in Prison, etc are excellent
Anything by B. Traven -the Jungle Series, the Cotton Pickers, the Death Ship, the White Rose, the Treasure of the Sierra Madre are well worth a read.

powertotheimagi...
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Jan 15 2008 16:52

double post.

powertotheimagi...
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Jan 15 2008 16:52

Irvene Welsh's work isn't obviously political (some characters are) but he covers political ground, and he's a great author to.