Verso titles selected as Books of the Year 2011 across UK broadsheets and periodicals
As the year draws to a close, newspapers have been asking the great and the good which books have most impressed them in 2011. Here we have collected the Verso books that were featured.
In the New Statesman, Guardian and Observer Books of the Year round ups, Hari Kunzru selected two Verso books as standing out from other books published this year. He explained the appeal of the titles to the New Statesman:
With the Occupy movement gaining ground throughout the world, McKenzie Wark's smart overview of the situationist movement, The Beach Beneath the Street: the Everyday Life and Glorious Times of the Situationist International, feels particularly timely. For years, Laura Oldfield Ford, who is very influenced by situationism, has produced a fanzine, based on her derives around London, with words and beautiful, confrontational line drawings of the city's forgotten people and neglected places. Now, Savage Messiah has been collected in book form. It is a wake-up call to anyone who can only see modern cities through the lens of gentrification.
In the Guardian feature on the Best Books of 2011, a number of Verso titles were selected by those asked.
Among the 2011 books that came my way I particularly welcomed Owen Jones's Chavs, a passionate and well-documented denunciation of the upper-class contempt for the proles that has recently become so visible in the British class system.
I loved two very different books of criticism...[one was] Owen Hatherley's furiously pro-Modernist A Guide to the New Ruins of Britain
Liberalism: A Counter-History by Domenico Losurdo stimulatingly uncovers the contradictions of an ideology that is much too self-righteously invoked.
I'm reading Chris Harman's A People's History of the World. It's really helpful to zoom out from time to time when you're living massive events at very close quarters.
The Glasgow Herald asked a variety of commentators and writers what books they most enjoyed this year:
Ruth Wishart, Journalist
Undoubtedly Owen Jones, whose Chavs. a timely slice of social commentary, hit the shelves immediately after the summer riots.
Reviewers from The Oxford Times were asked to choose their books of the year,
My book of the year is Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class by Owen Jones , which tells in shocking detail how millions of our people been pushed to the margins, how their children get far fewer life-chances than middle-class children (think Rose Hill and North Oxford) and how it has become fashionable to make fun of them. We would be outraged, as he rightly says, if any other group was so ill-used or treated with such contempt."
In the Times Literary Supplement seventy-two writers selected their favorite books from around the world.
I hugely enjoyed McKenzie Wark's The Beach Beneath the Street, a playful, smart and occasionally epigrammatic study of the Situationists. Wark has a gift for stark and provocative summary: "We are bored with this planet .... Capitalism or barbarism, those are the choices. This is an epoch governed by this blackmail: either more and more of the same, or the end times". What Wark offers in this brilliant account of a misunderstood period in twentieth-century history is nothing less than a crazed, insomniac and visceral call worthy of the Situationists themselves, to "escape the twenty-first century while we still can" and become truly alive. And not only is this an essential work for our own times; it also comes with a cover that, with the minimum of manual dexterity, folds out into a collaborative graphic essay, "Totality for beginners", written by Wark and designed by Kevin C. Pyle.
The Scotsman asked a gallery of authors to name their favorite books from this year.
Meaghan Delahunt, novelist
John Berger's Bento's Sketchbook displays his trademark lyrical precision-meditations on art, writing and philosophy interspersed with his own drawings.
John Burnside, poet
The book I read three times back to back was McKenzie Wark's brilliant study of the Situationists, The Beach Beneath the Street.
The Sunday Herald asked a variety of figures involved in the world of literature, media and literacy to nominate their picks.
Pat Kane, writer
In The Beach Beneath The Street, McKenzie Wark writes attractively about those post-war European progenitors of the Occupy movements, the Situationists - and defies Kindlism by making the hardback's wrap cover unfold into a comic-strip wallposter.
Tariq Ali, writer
Tom Nairn's classic on the British monarchy, with a new introduction, The Enchanted Glass: Britain And Its Monarchy. The timing is good. For the first time since the Act of Union, the Scots are challenging Unionist hegemony and, who knows, the country might be independent once again, hopefully a republic. Balmoral should not be reduced to luxury apartments a la Trump in New York, but should become a public space for festivals and such like and a museum of Scottish history.