Nicola Field

The Senility of Vladimir P

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This page-turning, vodka-sodden, tragi-comic crime thriller about political corruption and moral predicaments is a brilliant holiday read.

It’s set in the future: Russia has been taken over by a new generation of despotic oligarchs, dissent is suppressed and former Russian president Vladimir P, now in an advanced stage of dementia, has been hived off to his luxury dacha near Moscow.

Carol

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Todd Haynes’s themes of sexual outsiders and repressive social mores have seen him associated with the New Queer Cinema — a trend which redefines cultures of sexual transgression.

Putting solidarity back into Pride

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Nicola Field and Gethin Roberts of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners spoke to Socialist Review about politicising this year's Pride season.

We’ve just seen a majority Tory government elected. How will this shape the context of the Pride marches this year and the wider work you are doing through the re-launched Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM)?

Nicola: The Tories, who were seen before the election by the bourgeois gay movement as heroes because they brought in gay marriage, have now shown their true colours. The cabinet is full of homophobes, such as the new equalities minister, Caroline Dinenage, who voted against equal marriage.

Mommy

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On paper, this award winning film by the acclaimed young director Xavier Dolan is packed with “issues”. It is set in a fictional Canada after the 2015 election. Reformed public health laws have shifted the landscape for parents and teachers of children with special needs.

Forest Gate

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Peter Akinti, Jonathan Cape; £12.99

Poverty feels eternal on the gang-riven, brutal, barren estates of east London. In this vivid and energising first novel from Peter Akinti, two teenage friends - James, the youngest in a family of drug dealers, and Ashvin, a Somalian refugee - decide to escape by jumping, nooses around their necks, from the tops of twin tower blocks. Ashvin dies instantly. But James wakes up in hospital to face his dysfunctional family, a feeble psychologist and Ashvin's grieving sister, Armeina.

The Armies

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Evelio Rosero, Maclehose Press, £14.99

This important novel, which won Mexico's prestigious Tusquets Prize in 2006, is a story of a rural population terrorised by military raids, mercenary guerrilla kidnappings, torture and murder - robbed of land and the means of survival, torn apart and decimated. It could describe life in many parts of the world now suffering devastation from corrupt and brutal powers, backed by Western governments, multinationals and secret services. But Evelio Rosero is Colombian, his subject the barbarism being endured by Colombia, and The Armies is effectively suppressed in that country.

A Tranquil Star

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Primo Levi, Penguin, £20

This collection of previously unpublished stories is big literary news. It is part of a new translation of Levi's collected works on the 20th anniversary of his death, and offers some fantastical and intensely dark riffs and satires.

Sculpted in Stone

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Review of 'My First Seven Years', Dario Fo, Methuen £14.99

'There are periods in the life of a man which... leave deep marks on the memory, causing each moment to be imprinted as though sculpted on stone.' These words - prefacing the story of how, in 1945, Dario Fo, as a young conscript in Nazi-occupied Italy, deserted a few months before liberation - express the logic of selection in Dario Fo's crafty and uproarious memoir.

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