Book Briefs

Issue section: 

Helen Keller - Monica Ali - Margaret Atwood - Annie Proulx - Mark Haddon - Books on Demand - Book Club

Did you know that Helen Keller, renowned throughout the world for her blindness and deafness, was also a passionate socialist? Now a brilliant new book has collected together many of her inspiring, but hard to obtain, socialist writings. Here too you can find her writings and speeches on women's liberation, her class analysis of disability, and her denunciation of the First World War. I defy you not to be moved when she writes, 'Strike against war, for without you no battles can be fought. Strike against preparedness that means death and misery to millions of human beings. Be not dumb, obedient slaves in an army of destruction.' This book is part of a great new series published by Ocean Books, called 'Rebel Lives'. There is one already about the socialist beliefs of the scientist Albert Einstein, and future editions include one on the French revolutionary Louise Michel. At £8.95 these small volumes are a bit pricey, but it's worth it to have such inspiring writings at your fingertips.

Look out for a host of gripping, and often political, novels now out in paperback. Top of my list is Monica Ali's deservedly acclaimed Brick Lane, about the contrasting lives of women in Bangladesh and the East End of London, which is published in paperback this month. Don't miss too Margaret Atwood's nightmare future of biotechnology in the hands of the giant corporations, Oryx and Crake. Annie Proulx looks at the grip of giant agribusiness (namely the Global Pork Rind corporation) in a different setting, George Bush's Texas, in That Old Ace in the Hole. You can't always believe the hype, but the book that is everywhere, Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is an insightful and moving story told from the point of view of a 15 year old with Asperger's syndrome.

Have you ever been recommended to read a classic socialist book and then been hugely disappointed when you've found out it is no longer in print? Well be disappointed no longer! New technology means publishers are prepared to print books on demand. So you can 'demand' your own copy of books which have been out of print for years, like Eamonn McCann's brilliant War and an Irish Town. They take about three weeks to produce. For more details phone Bookmarks socialist bookshop on 020 7637 1848 or go to

The current wave of enthusiasm for book clubs and reading groups reveals just how much people are crying out to read and discuss good books. With this in mind Socialist Review is launching its own socialist book club. We plan to meet once a month to discuss novels, books in the news, socialist classics... the choice is endless. We want to hear from anyone who is interested in getting involved. Just email me at

Is there a book you want to see reviewed in Socialist Review? Fancy trying your hand at reviewing a book? We want to hear from you. Email me or write to Socialist Review, PO Box 82, London E3 3LH.