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"A near-definitive anthology"—Austin Chronicle on The Verso Book of Dissent

Clara Heyworth15 December 2010

As dissent spills onto the streets in protests, strikes and riots on both sides of the Atlantic—in particular London, AthensRome and GeorgiaThe Verso Book of Dissent is greeted by another enthusiastic review, this time from the Austin Chronicle. Richard Whittaker, reviewing The Verso Book of Dissent alongside About to Die: How Images Move the Public, opens with a general lament:

Sometimes it really feels like the body politic refuses to be woken from its slumber. Between grave injustices and horrifying events, it seems near-impossible to stir an apathetic electorate. Yet occasionally, if too rarely, a shocking image or a radical thought can still provoke debate and even action.

Whittaker goes on to praise The Verso Book of Dissent as "a near-definitive anthology":

Co-editors Andrew Hsiao and Audrea Lim have undertaken the mammoth task of collating a near-definitive anthology of the voice of opposition to oppression. There are the obvious inclusions: An excerpt from Émile Zola's J'Accuse, a sliver of Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason, and a few beats from Tupac Shakur. Yet to find obscure voices like Uighur poet Abdukhaliq, and to see him link philosophical arms with Andrea Dworkin and Marvin Gaye, is testament to the power of the urge for equality.

Indeed, the poem by Uyghur nationalist poet Abdukhaliq, entitled "It Is Close at Hand," is one of the entries the editors are proudest of—he is a figure shamefully overlooked by the general public, as is the plight of the Uyghur people:

Arise. Time is at hand.
It is very close.
Stand up, brothers. Do you want to die lying there?
We now face our deepest winter.
Time is very short but we still have time.
If we miss this chance,
The winter will freeze our lives.

[Abdukhaliq "Uyghur", 1920s]

Abdukhaliq, whose poems describe the lives of the Uyghur people under oppression, was killed by the Chinese government at the age of twenty-two in retaliation for the Hami Uprising of 1930–3. The Rebellion sought an end to Chinese rule in East Turkestan and the establishment of a Turkish Islamic Republic of East Turkestan in what is today Xinjiang Province. "Uyghur" was Abdukhaliq's pen name, and when he adopted it, the Chinese saw it as a nationalistic move.

Whittaker ends his review by noting in general of The Verso Book of Dissent that, "The unwritten coda is that the same social injustices remain without redress." Quite.

Visit the Austin Chronicle to read the review in full.

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