These provocative essays explore the links between literature, history and politics, through an examination of the work of Cervantes, Tolstoy, Proust, Musil, Roth, Platonov, Soltzhenitsyn, Grossman, Munif, Rushdie and others. Tariq Ali draws out common themes as well as polarities, and in each case locates the writer and his or her work in the appropriate political and historical context. The title essay is inspired by one of Proust’s lesser-known reflections: if Zionism seeks a biblical homeland for the Jews on the basis of persecution, why not also look for a biblical homeland for gays and lesbians? This collection, showcasing Tariq Ali’s range and polemical verve, will be sure to attract critical attention and a wide readership.
In a recent Guardian interview with Stuart Jeffries, Tariq Ali despairs of Westminster and the ‘extreme centre’ that dominates politics today. His solution? It’s not to trust Ed Miliband – it’s to follow the principles laid out by his father.
‘You can’t just wait for something to happen. You have to do something’ … Tariq Ali. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian.
Tariq Ali is recalling a party for the late Tony Benn on the House of Commons terrace shortly after Labour’s 1997 election victory. “Edward Miliband, as he was known then, came up to me, eyes shining, very excited, asking: ‘Tariq, what would you do if you had just won?’ I said: ‘The first thing I would do is to renationalise the railways. Between 70 and 80% of the people want that, it would be very popular.’ And he rolled his eyes in despair at me.”