three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
34-May-June-2008
By: 
Hari Kunzru
user_rating: 
0

A-My RevolutionsMichael Frame, a middle-aged, middle-class Englishman, lives a quiet, comfortable life with his wife and daughter. What his family doesn’t know, however—what no one close to him knows—is that Michael Frame is not his real name and that he spent his 20s as a political terrorist protesting the Vietnam War. The bourgeois life he lives now epitomizes everything he once fought against. But when Miles Bridgeman, a mysterious man Michael knew when they were both young revolutionaries, reappears with blackmail on his mind, Michael is forced to confront his past and reexamine the choices that led him to betray his former friends and ideals.
Dutton. 288 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 0525949321

Minneapolis Star Tribune 4 of 5 Stars
"[I]f Kunzru doesn’t give My Revolutions the most original setup, he makes up for it with colorful yet believable characters, plotting that’s suspenseful without being gimmicky, and a rising sense of tension that drives the story toward a conclusion that isn’t necessarily foreseen." Cherie Parker

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"Kunzru, born in 1969, gives an amazingly convincing account of a period he never witnessed. And by treating the millenarian aspirations of his characters with respect, he rejects the popular view of such revolutionaries as delusional adolescents, playing at revolt. He reveals the yearning behind the dreadful agitprop, the abiding message inside the Molotov cocktail bottle." Will Blythe

Cleveland Plain Dealer 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The story of the middle-class ex-radical from the ‘60s living a suburban life in the ‘90s is not a new one—Dana Spiotta’s Eat the Document, a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award, covered similar ground. But Kunzru keeps the story fresh by giving us a narrator who is so movingly human." Steven Hayward

Seattle Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Nitpicking aside, Kunzru’s novel is fast-paced, strong on character and setting, and well-executed (although the last 20 or so pages seem like gathering up loose ends). It is clear Kunzru has a strong feeling that the world doesn’t often change unless it’s pushed toward a better goal. Kunzru also knows that those who push the hardest sometimes lose the sense of where they are trying to go." Richard Wallace

Boston Globe 2 of 5 Stars
"In our post-9/11 world, it would seem difficult to write about terrorism before that pivotal September day and shed little light on terrorism since then, but Hari Kunzru has found a way in his disappointing novel, My Revolutions." Robert Braile

Critical Summary

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 violence—and then back to indifference?