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My Revolutions: A Novel Paperback – December 30, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Significant Seven, January 2008: It's not the first time a story like this has been told: a '60s radical-turned-terrorist, living quietly under a new name with a family that doesn't know his history, finds his past about to catch up with him. But Hari Kunzru's novel, My Revolutions, feels fresh on every page. Not from the over-the-top pyrotechnics that brought so much attention to his precocious debut, The Impressionist, but from a thorough fictional imagination that gives every scene and every character the rich strangeness of reality. It's a grownup story of a youth lived at the edge (and a life spent in its shadow), which makes an emblematic tale of a generation feel irreducibly individual. --Tom Nissley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

My Revolutions, the third novel by critically acclaimed British writer Hari Kunzru (named one of Granta’s “Twenty Best Fiction Writers Under Forty”), melds deep political and philosophical reflections with a page-turner of a plot. The result is a novel that most critics praised for being both enthralling and thought provoking. While the Seattle Times complained that “for those of us who enjoy reading Kunzru for his laser wit and wicked sense of dark social comedy, My Revolutions is a bit of a letdown,” most reviewers agreed that Kunzru manages to treat his characters, with all their failed idealism, their sins and their compromises, with both careful scrutiny and a welcome sense of compassion. In so doing, Kunzru asks an important, timely question: How does idealism lead to violenceâ€"and then back to indifference?
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452290023
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452290020
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,340,139 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hari Kunzru is the author of the novels The Impressionist (2002), Transmission (2004), My Revolutions (2007) and Gods Without Men (2011), as well as a short story collection, Noise (2006). His work has been translated into twenty-one languages and won him prizes including the Somerset Maugham award, the Betty Trask prize of the Society of Authors, a Pushcart prize and a British Book Award. In 2003 Granta named him one of its twenty best young British novelists. Lire magazine named him one of its 50 "écrivains pour demain". He is Deputy President of English PEN, a patron of the Refugee Council and a member of the editorial board of Mute magazine. His short stories and journalism have appeared in diverse publications including The New York Times, Guardian, New Yorker, Financial Times, Times of India, Wired and New Statesman. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Like his first novel, "The Impressionist", Hari Kunzru's latest is about the nature of identity and re-invention of self. In "My Revolutions", former 60's radical Michael Frame is living a quiet suburban life as a bookseller with his wife Miranda, who runs a cosmetics company that boasts of its "natural botanicals" while factory-producing them. He's kept his past a secret from his wife and step daughter: that of a zealous anti-Vietnam War protester named Chris Carver who blew up buildings as part of a leftist group that included his occasional lover Anna Addison. Now (in 1998), while on a French holiday, Michael glimpses someone who may be Anna, who he thought had been killed years before in a terrorist act. Shortly thereafter another old acquaintance from his revolutionary days, Miles Bridgeman, tracks Michael down and begins blackmailing him, threatening to expose Michael's former identity. With one foot in a past that is about to pounce on him, Michael struggles to re-connect with Anna and stay one step ahead of Miles. Michael's youthful experiences, in which he is first drawn into the counterculture, are vividly rendered, and his present-day travails and staid family life illustrate the difficulty in retaining some sense of idealism while leading a peaceful modern existence. A relatively short book with no shortage of thought-provoking ideas, and better yet, characters that, with all their contradictions and hypocrisy, are real and engaging.

Also recommended: A Stranger Lies There - a superior desert-noir about a former 60's radical who's never forgiven himself for his part in a violent anti-Vietnam War action that left three dead.
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Format: Hardcover
I was quite enthralled with this book, mostly since it really appears that Hari Kunzru has done his homework. He really paints a vibrant picture of the era of a sixties revolutionary hell bent on change. You can picture every row house brick in the burroughs, and the cramped in meetings of the characters he picks up along the way.

The best success is the feelings he gives to the reader in wanting to know what really makes these activists in his story tick, they really are off the deep end in politicizing even the most single trivial decisions. Kunzru also manages to stay away from stupid plot devices and from the nicely wrapped up ending. You really get a sense of wanting to know what happens next, and never feel cheated in the end.
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Format: Hardcover
We're going to blast our way through here
We've got to get together sooner or later
Because the revolution's here, and you know its right." Thunderclap Newman

For many the revolution of the 60s (such as it was) was played out in song. Whether the Beatles, the Who, or Thunderclap Newman, there was a lot of talk, a lot of song, and plenty of demos and marches. But for the most part talk about revolution was just talk. There were some notable exceptions. Paris, Mexico and the Prague Spring in 1968 were a few. In the U.S. some elements of the anti-war movement, most notably the Weather Underground morphed into violence. The U.K. had the "Angry Brigade" and it is that group that provides the historical background for Hari Kunzru's new work, "My Revolutions".

"My Revolutions" takes us back to a time when something was in the air, but makes the reader question what that something actually was. Kunzru takes us down this path with one Mike Frame, a man approaching 50, leading a quiet, comfortable suburban life with his partner of 16-years, Miranda. We soon discover that Mike Frame is not at all what he seems to be. Rather, his real name is Chris Carver, a radical in the 60s who went underground after a series of robberies and bombings at the height of the anti-war movement in the UK. After a vacation on the continent Frame's life begins to unravel. He spots a woman there who appears to be one of his old comrades in arms. He is then approached by a second old comrade, one who seeks to blackmail Frame/Carver into revealing that yet another comrade, now a highly placed government official, was once part of the violent fringe of the anti-war movement in the UK. The novel alternates between the unraveling of Frame's life and the back story of Carver's.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this book b/c Junot Diaz recommended it for its sizzling prose. In some ways I agree with him, but mainly I don't. For sure, the highly imaginative story Kunzru's come up with allows Chris, his main character, to riff on the perversity of the post-WWII class system from a unique perspective and it's done very well. And the plot's well done. The idealistic antiwar group Chris joins as a young man seeking an end to war becomes too radical, forcing a choice between staying on with the group to its inevitable demise or leaving them (and his identity) behind. Thirty years later, hiding under an assumed name amongst British nouveau riche, events force Chris to revisit the past he's been suppressing. This was very cool and new stuff. The story's believable for its excellent research on the times and the different counter-culture groups in Britain.

However, for all of that attention to the times, Kunzru doesn't breathe life into the characters. But for Chris (and to a far lesser extent, Anna), most of the characters we meet are rather flat "types" who serve some narrative function behind a thin layer of description. Fair enough since this is Chris' story, but Kunzru falls short of the mark with his treatment of Chris, too.

I understand that Chris has had to suppress his revolutionary past and, thus, his emotions. So the reader can expect the studied calmness of Chris's narrative voice as he recollects his past. But even when the story takes us through events occurring when Chris was a young revolutionary, completely immersed in the wildness of the times, Kunzru also keeps him too far removed from the reader. As a revolutionary, Chris is rough-and-ready, has deep political beliefs which he acts upon, and is as passionate for Anna as anything else in his life.
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