China Miéville book tour: see all launch events here
On the centenary of the Russian Revolution, China Miéville tells the extraordinary story of this pivotal moment in history.
In February of 1917 Russia was a backwards, autocratic monarchy, mired in an unpopular war; by October, after not one but two revolutions, it had become the world’s first workers’ state, straining to be at the vanguard of global revolution. How did this unimaginable transformation take place?
In a panoramic sweep, stretching from St Petersburg and Moscow to the remotest villages of a sprawling empire, Miéville uncovers the catastrophes, intrigues and inspirations of 1917, in all their passion, drama and strangeness. Intervening in long-standing historical debates, but told with the reader new to the topic especially in mind, here is a breathtaking story of humanity at its greatest and most desperate; of a turning point for civilisation that still resonates loudly today.
“Miéville is an ideal guide through this complex historical moment, giving agency to obscure and better-known participants alike, and depicting the revolution as both a tragically lost opportunity and an ongoing source of inspiration.”
“When one of the most marvellously original writers in the world takes on one of the most explosive events in history, the result can only be incendiary”
“To give a new generation of readers a fresh account of the great revolution, incorporating all the post-1989 archival discoveries and scholarly research, is a singularly daunting task. To render it in vivid, oracular prose, moving across the pages with the gathering force of a hurricane, is something that only China Miéville could achieve.”
“This gripping account is a re-enactment of the Russian Revolution... His writing can be as passionate as that of the poets of the time: Alexander Blok, Mikhail Kuzmin, Marina Tsvetaeva, to mention some of those quoted here. Miéville's own special effects are of a piece with them.”
“Elegantly constructed and unexpectedly moving”
“Miéville presents the action with his novelist’s eye … An intriguing march to revolution, told here with clarity and insight.”
“There are delightful grace notes here over and above a brisk and perceptive narrative.”
“Cinematic and vivid”
“Readers will be satisfied that October gives them the literary equivalent of bearing witness to world history.”
“It’s as if John Reed, author of the classic piece of revolutionary journalism, Ten Days That Shook the World, woke from a decades-long sleep to tell the story of 1917 once again.”
“Best Summer Books of 2017”
“Miéville sifts through the extraordinary disagreements, debates, and debacles that accompanied the Russian reds on every step of the road to revolution … He's especially evocative when he chronicles the scenes on the chaotic streets. But much of the value of October comes in his mastery of how the intricacies of human decision-making play out in Petrograd, Moscow, and beyond.”
“An exciting account of the revolutionary moment... well-argued and elegiac”
“[An] engaging retelling of the events that rocked the foundations of the twentieth century.”
“In October, Miéville provides an introduction to one of the seminal events of the 20th century — the overthrow of the Romanov dynasty and the establishment of the world’s first communist state 100 years ago this year … It has all the makings of a novel, and Miéville’s narrative builds toward its crescendo as the Bolsheviks prepare to take power.”
“Miéville's understanding of the intricacies and underlying absurdities of party politics is unmatched…A rich and compelling book.”
“This is a very fine book — in some ways, I believe, the best work that China Miéville has produced since the three thick volumes of the Bas-Lag trilogy. Indeed, October bears, in certain respects, a deeper affinity to those novels than to anything else he has published since; and it thus provides a convenient opportunity to take stock of the Miéville oeuvre to date...That [October] is an excellent work of art there is no doubt whatever.”
“Miéville, known for his extravagantly weird science fiction and fantasy, is a virtuosic storyteller; here he conjures a society convulsing on the verge of total transformation while staying squarely within the lines of the historical record. Reading this blow-by-blow account of revolution now, when political life is stranger than any fiction, is galvanizing.”
“There are workers, there are peasants, there are soldiers, there are parties, there are tsars, there are courtiers. Each of them bears his or her class position, his or her economic and other concerns, but it is the political field itself, how it hurls its protagonists into combat, combat with its own rules and norms, its own criteria for success and failure, that is front and center here. This may be the most textured, most concrete, account of what political contest and political combat, literal and metaphoric, feels like.”