My Revolutions – Hari Kunzru (2007)

I really loved the first novel I read by British writer Hari Kunzru, the 2004 comic novel “Transmission” which when I discovered it 6 years later it ended up in my Top 3 of the year.  Spurred on by this I’ve read another couple by him which didn’t quite make the same impact.  By reading his 2017 record-buying obsessives themed “White Tears” I bypassed this earlier novel, which was his third, now 15 years old.  Putting that right I have discovered his second five star work.

Thematically, it doesn’t sound that appealing to me which might have been why I didn’t seek it out at the time.  I don’t read many serious, political novels and so any description of this tale of radical activists in the late 1960s/early 70s might very well have left me cold.  But this is the man who made writing about a computer virus in “Transmission” laugh out loud funny so I was tempted to explore outside my usual comfort zone.

I’m so glad I did because away from the activism there is so much going on in terms of story-telling.  It all feels authentic.  It follows along a number of time-lines which are all equally involving and strong characterisation and a carefully structured plot just adds to the joys.  This is a serious work and yet the writing is not without humour and empathy.

Mike Frame is approaching his 50th birthday when he bails out on his partner and step-daughter.  We know that this is linked to an earlier chance meeting of a woman from his past in France.  We begin to realise that he has had a secret life and that his name is not even Mike.  When his secrets begin to unravel he has to take drastic action.

Within this first-person narrative he explores his past- of confrontations against the establishment, communes and squats and fighting for what you believe in and how easily idealism can become tainted so that the brave new world once thought possible goes increasingly out of reach.

As a child at the time “My Revolutions” is set I was aware slightly of some of the issues raised here but it would have been through the then media’s pre-occupation with “long-haired layabouts” and the fear of youth challenging established views.  I found this filling in of many of the gaps in my knowledge of this time in British social history fascinating and well -told enough to keep me captivated.  This is a book so rich in events and ideas, there’s enough here for a whole bookshelf of novels.  I really wasn’t expecting to love it- but I did.

My Revolutions was published in 2007.  I read a 2008 Penguin paperback edition. 

One thought on “My Revolutions – Hari Kunzru (2007)

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Books Of The Year 2022 – Part One (10-6) – reviewsrevues

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