Reading List

Our 2020 publishing highlights

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It feels strange to present a list of highlights after such a tumultuous and strange year. As we, at Verso, struggled to comprehend the scale and tragedy of the global pandemic, we were also trying to work out if we still had a publishing house to work for. After the closure of almost all bookstores in the English-speaking world, it seemed unlikely. Under lockdown, it just didn’t seem possible to print our books, warehouse them, and get them to people.

However, thanks to the incredible work of our printers and warehouses, we have been able to carry on publishing and distributing our books. And, thanks to the support of you – our readers – they've been able to find their home.

We’re committed to publishing books that radically critique the structures of our society, debate the future of the planet, and offer far-reaching proposals for social and political change. Our books this year have published in a climate that we weren't expecting, yet seem eerily prescient. Theories of work at a time when the idea of work itself has been completely turned on it's head. A book described as “the best post office novel ever written” by the New York Times, publishing just before an election in the United States that made mail delivery one of the tensest political battlegrounds in years. And, of course, our Coronavirus Pamphlet series – initially conceived of back in March, looking at many interconnected crises that are now emerging as major consequences of the global pandemic (from capitalism to care, the economy, mutual aid, and the climate crisis).

Our readers have also been searching out books from across our publishing that look at wider issues of policing, migration, anti-colonial resistance, resistance to white supremacy, and Black radicalism. For this reason, we have included some books in our highlights this year that were published before 2020, but have really found their readers at this momentous time.

Probably our biggest highlight of the year was launching the Verso Book Club: the foundation of which is a digital subscription, priced as low as possible (starting from just £5/$5 per month), so that we can make everything that we publish available as quickly and reliably as possible. There are also options to receive books in the mail, and we currently have 50% off all membership options. Thank you to everyone who has joined and supported us!

In the reading list we bring you our 2020 publishing highlights: all 40% off, alongside everything on our website, until January 4th, 23:59 EST. We also have bundled ebooks with every print purchase — meaning you can gift the print book (if you want to!) and start reading the ebook straight away! See more here.

In Automation and the Future of Work, Aaron Benanav uncovers the structural economic trends that will shape our working lives far into the future. What social movements, he asks, are required to propel us into post-scarcity, if technological innovation alone can’t deliver it? In response to calls for a universal basic income that would maintain a growing army of redundant workers, he offers a counter-proposal.

Accessible, provocative and beautifully written, An Event, Perhaps will introduce a new readership to the life and work of a philosopher whose influence over the way we think will continue long into the twenty-first century.

Glitch Feminism is a vital new chapter in cyberfeminism, one that explores the relationship between gender, technology and identity. In an urgent manifesto, Russell reveals the many ways that the glitch performs and transforms: how it refuses, throws shade, ghosts, encrypt, mobilises and survives. Developing the argument through memoir, art and critical theory, Russell also looks at the work of contemporary artists who travel through the glitch in their work.

The problem is not overpolicing, it is policing itself.

Drawing on groundbreaking research from across the world, and covering virtually every area in the increasingly broad range of police work, Alex Vitale demonstrates how law enforcement has come to exacerbate the very problems it is supposed to solve.

From Dickens’s insomniac night rambles to restless excursions through the faceless monuments of today’s neoliberal city, the act of walking is one of self-discovery and self-escape, of disappearances and secret subversions. Pacing stride for stride alongside literary amblers and thinkers such as Edgar Allan Poe, André Breton, H. G. Wells, Virginia Woolf, Jean Rhys and Ray Bradbury, Beaumont explores the relationship between the metropolis and its pedestrian life.

Judith Butler’s new book shows how an ethic of nonviolence must be connected to a broader political struggle for social equality. Further, it argues that nonviolence is often misunderstood as a passive practice that emanates from a calm region of the soul, or as an individualist ethical relation to existing forms of power. But, in fact, nonviolence is an ethical position found in the midst of the political field.

Aside from Mary Prince, enslaved West Indian women had few opportunities to record their stories for posterity. Yet from their dusty footprints and the umpteen small clues they left for us to unravel, there’s no question that they earned their place in history. Pick any Caribbean island and you’ll find race, skin colour and rank interacting with gender in a unique and often volatile way. Moreover, the evidence points to a distinctly female role in the development of a culture of slave resistance—a role that was not just central, but downright dynamic.

In this brilliant and kaleidoscopic look at the emerging feminist international, Verónica Gago uses the women’s strike as both a concept and a collective experience. At once a gripping political analysis and a theoretically charged manifesto, Feminist International draws on the author’s rich experience with radical movements to enter into ongoing debates in feminist and Marxist theory.

Much has been written on how colonized peoples took up British and European ideas and turned them against empire when making claims to freedom and self-determination. In Insurgent Empire Priyamvada Gopal sets the record straight in demonstrating that these people were much more than victims of imperialism or, subsequently, the passive beneficiaries of an enlightened British conscience—they were insurgents whose legacies shaped and benefited the nation that once oppressed them.

Opening with a letter from James Baldwin to Davis, and including contributions from numerous radicals such as Black Panthers George Jackson, Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale and Erica Huggins, this book is not only an account of Davis’s incarceration and the struggles surrounding it, but also perhaps the most comprehensive and thorough analysis of the prison system of the United State.

Mike Davis and Jon Wiener provide the first comprehensive movement history of L.A. in the sixties, drawing on extensive archival research and dozens of interviews with principal figures, as well as the authors’ storied personal histories as activists. 

Humanity must stop burning fossil fuels within the next thirty years and do so in a way that improves living standards and opportunities for working people. This is the goal of the Green New Deal and, as the authors make clear, it is entirely feasible. Climate change is an emergency that cannot be ignored. This book shows how it can be overcome both politically and economically.

THIS BOOK IS NOT AVAILABLE IN NORTH AMERICA FROM VERSO

How has capitalism devastated the planet—and what can we do about it?

Nature, money, work, care, food, energy, and lives: these are the seven things that have made our world and will shape its future. In making these things cheap, modern commerce has transformed, governed, and devastated the Earth. At a time of crisis in all seven cheap things, innovative and systemic thinking is urgently required. This book proposes a radical new way of understanding—and reclaiming—the planet in the turbulent twenty-first century.

Collecting over seventy-five manifestos from around the world, Burn It Down! is a rallying cry and a call to action. 

Most people assume that racism grows from a perception of human difference: the fact of race gives rise to the practice of racism. Sociologist Karen E. Fields and historian Barbara J. Fields argue otherwise: the practice of racism produces the illusion of race, through what they call “racecraft.” And this phenomenon is intimately entwined with other forms of inequality in American life. 

In Revolting Prostitutes, sex workers Juno Mac and Molly Smith bring a fresh perspective to questions that have long been contentious. Speaking from a growing global sex worker rights movement, and situating their argument firmly within wider questions of migration, work, feminism, and resistance to white supremacy, they make clear that anyone committed to working towards justice and freedom should be in support of the sex worker rights movement.

A tartly hilarious and deeply affecting new novel from the best-selling author of Will and Testament. This is an existential scream of a novel about loneliness (and the postal service!), written in Hjorth’s trademark spare, rhythmic and cutting style.

At once a time-travelling horror story and a fugue-like feminist manifesto, this is a singular, genre-warping new novel from Jenny Hval – author of the acclaimed Paradise Rot

Rowland Atkinson presents a history of the property boom economy, going back to the end of Empire. It tells the story of eager developers, sovereign wealth and grasping politicians, all paving the way for the wealthy colonisation of the cityscape. The consequences of this transformation of the capital for capital is the brutal expulsion of the urban poor, austerity, cuts, demolitions, and a catalogue of social injustices.

AVAILABLE IN NORTH AMERICA ONLY

The Twittering Machine is an unflinching view into the calamities of digital life: the circus of online trolling, flourishing alt-right subcultures, pervasive corporate surveillance, and the virtual data mines of Facebook and Google where we spend considerable portions of our free time. In this polemical tour de force, Richard Seymour shows how the digital world is changing the ways we speak, write, and think.

This book is about mutual aid: why it is so important, what it looks like, and how to do it. It provides a grassroots theory of mutual aid, describes how mutual aid is a crucial part of powerful movements for social justice, and offers concrete tools for organizing, such as how to work in groups, how to foster a collective decision-making process, how to prevent and address conflict, and how to deal with burnout.  

In Corona, Climate, Chronic Emergency, leading environmental thinker, Andreas Malm demands that this war-footing state should be applied on a permanent basis to the ongoing climate front line. He offers proposals on how the climate movement should use this present emergency to make that case. There can be no excuse for inaction any longer.

In The Corona Crash, leading economics commentator Grace Blakeley theorises about the epoch-making changes that the coronavirus brings in its wake.

The Care Manifesto puts care at the heart of the debates of our current crisis: from intimate care--childcare, healthcare, elder care--to care for the natural world. We live in a world where carelessness reigns, but it does not have to be this way.

Written between 1944 and 1947, Minima Moralia is a collection of rich, lucid aphorisms and essays about life in modern capitalist society. Adorno casts his penetrating eye across society in mid-century America and finds a life deformed by capitalism. This is Adorno's theoretical and literary masterpiece and a classic of twentieth-century thought.

In Feminist City, through history, personal experience and popular culture Leslie Kern exposes what is hidden in plain sight: the social inequalities built into our cities, homes, and neighborhoods. Kern offers an alternative vision of the feminist city. Taking on fear, motherhood, friendship, activism, and the joys and perils of being alone, Kern maps the city from new vantage points, laying out an intersectional feminist approach to urban histories and proposes that the city is perhaps also our best hope for shaping a new urban future.

A radical glossary of the vocabulary of policing that redefines the very way we understand law enforcement.

Now back in print after its initial publication in 1977 and with a new introduction by the author, The Romance of American Communism is a landmark work of new journalism, profiling American Communist Party members and fellow travelers as they joined the Party, lived within its orbit, and left in disillusionment and disappointment as Stalin’s crimes became public.

Bigger than Bernie offers unmatched insights into the people behind the most unique campaign in modern American history and a clear-eyed sense of how the movement can sustain itself for the long haul.

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa is an ambitious masterwork of political economy, detailing the impact of slavery and colonialism on the history of international capitalism. In this classic book, Rodney makes the unflinching case that African “mal-development” is not a natural feature of geography, but a direct product of imperial extraction from the continent, a practice that continues up into the present. 

A history of the UK’s regional inequalities, and why they matter.

In this essential work, Tom Hazeldine excavates the history of a divided country: North and South, industry versus finance, Whitehall and the left-behind. Only by fully registering these deep-seated tensions, he argues, can we make sense of the present moment.

In 1970, Richard Sennett published the groundbreaking The Uses of Disorder, arguing that the ideal of a planned and ordered city was flawed. Fifty years later, Sennett returns to these still fertile ideas and, alongside campaigner and architect Pablo Sendra, sets out an agenda for the design and ethics of the Open City.

Closely analyzing the forces inside the party aligned against Corbyn's leadership, Panitch and Leys explain what happened between the validation of the Corbyn project in the 2017 election, while advancing an ambitious programme of democratic socialist measures unmatched anywhere since the 1970s, and the electoral defeat amidst the Brexit conjuncture of 2019. 

During the pitched battle over slavery in the United States, Black writers—enslaved and free—allied themselves with the cause of abolition and used their art to advocate for emancipation and to envision the end of slavery as a world-historical moment of possibility. These Black writers borrowed from the European tradition of Romanticism—lyric poetry, prophetic visions—to write, speak, and sing their hopes for what freedom might mean. At the same time, they voiced anxieties about the expansion of global capital and US imperial power in the aftermath of slavery

Aaron Bastani conjures a vision of extraordinary hope, showing how we move to energy abundance, feed a world of 9 billion, overcome work, transcend the limits of biology, and establish meaningful freedom for everyone. Rather than a final destination, such a society merely heralds the real beginning of history.

Through interviews with key revolutionary scholars, Bhandar and Ziadah present a thorough discussion of how anti-racist, anti-capitalist feminisms are crucial to building effective political coalitions. Collectively, these interviews with leading scholars including Angela Y. Davis, Silvia Federici, and many others, trace the ways in which black, indigenous, post-colonial and Marxian feminisms have created new ways of seeing, new theoretical frameworks for analysing political problems, and new ways of relating to one another.

The great French Marxist philosopher weighs up the contributions of the three major critics of modernity.

From the acclaimed author of How Will Capitalism End? comes an omnibus of long-form critical essays engaging with leading economists and thinkers. 

Sinews of War and Trade is the story of what the making of new ports and shipping infrastructure has meant not only for the Arabian peninsula itself, but for the region and the world beyond. The book is an account of how maritime transportation is not simply an enabling companion of trade, but central to the very fabric of global capitalism. 

From the criminalization of HIV to the frenzy over “pedophile priests,” from unexamined assumptions about the murder of Matthew Shepard to the accusations made against Woody Allen, from Brett Kavanaugh to Abu Ghraib, Wypijewski takes some of the most famous stories of recent decades and turns them inside out. The result is a searing indictment of modern sexual politics. 

Combining firsthand accounts from activists with the research of scholars and reflections from artists, Policing the Planet traces the global spread of the broken-windows policing strategy, first established in New York City under Police Commissioner William Bratton. It’s a doctrine that has vastly broadened police power the world over—to deadly effect.

Seventy-five years ago, Henry Wallace, then the vice president of the United States, mounted a campaign about the “Danger of American Fascism.” As fighting in the European and Japanese theatres drew to a close, Wallace warned that the country might win the war and lose the peace; that the fascist threat the United States. was battling abroad had a terrifying domestic variant, growing rapidly in power: wealthy corporatists and their allies in the media. 

A dramatic re-evaluation of the founding of the United States and the history of capitalism.

Adding historical, literary, and current political context to the discussion of migration today, John Washington tells the history of asylum law and practice through ages to the present day. Packed with information and reflection, The Dispossessed is more than a human portrait of those who cross borders—it is an urgent and persuasive case for sharing the country we call home.

In this landmark book, the author of The New Enclosure provides a forensic examination and sweeping critique of early-twenty-first-century capitalism. Brett Christophers styles this as ‘rentier capitalism’, in which ownership of key types of scarce assets - such as land, intellectual property, natural resources, or digital platforms - is all-important and dominated by a few unfathomably wealthy companies and individuals: rentiers. Frequently invoked but never previously analysed and illuminated in all its depth and variety, rentier capitalism is here laid bare for the first time.

Second Wave feminism emerged as a struggle for women’s liberation and took its place alongside other radical movements. But feminism’s subsequent immersion in identity politics coincided with a decline in its utopian energies and the rise of neoliberalism. Now, foreseeing a revival in the movement, Fraser argues for a reinvigorated feminist radicalism able to address the global economic crisis.

In the era of #MeToo and mass incarceration, The Feminist and the Sex Offender makes a powerful feminist case for accountability without punishment and sexual safety and pleasure without injustice.

What Comes After Farce? comments on shifts in art, criticism, and fiction in the face of the current regime of war, surveillance, extreme inequality, and media disruption. 

How should the left respond to electoral defeat, the leadership of Keir Starmer and a global crisis?

British politics is in an extraordinary place. Grace Blakeley introduces an indispensable collection of analysis and comment.

In this urgent and timely book, Patrick Cockburn writes the first draft of the history of the current crisis in the Middle East. Here he charts the period from the recapture of Mosul in 2017 to Turkey’s attack on Kurdish territory in November 2019, and recounts the new phase in the wars of disintegration that have plagued the region. The ground battle with the caliphate is perhaps over, but was this the end of the conflict that has scarred these nations for decades?

The first time Honduran indigenous leader Berta Cáceres met the journalist Nina Lakhani, Cáceres said, ‘The army has an assassination list with my name at the top. I want to live, but in this country there is total impunity. When they want to kill me, they will do it.’ In 2015, Cáceres won the Goldman Prize, the world’s most prestigious environmental award, for leading a campaign to stop construction of an internationally funded hydroelectric dam on a river sacred to her Lenca people. Less than a year later she was dead.

This anthology, global in scope, presents voices of dissent from every era of human history: speeches and pamphlets, poems and songs, plays and manifestos. Every age has its iconoclasts, and yet the greatest among them build on the words and actions of their forerunners. The Verso Book of Dissent should be in the arsenal of every rebel who understands that words and ideas are the ultimate weapons.

Throughout written history and across the world, women have protested the restrictions of gender and the limitations placed on women’s bodies and women’s lives. People—of any and no gender—have protested and theorised, penned manifestos and written poetry and songs, testified and lobbied, gone on strike and fomented revolution, quietly demanded that there is an “I” and loudly proclaimed that there is a “we.” The Verso Book of Feminism chronicles this history of defiance and tracks it around the world as it develops into a multivocal and unabashed force.

Originally published in 1974, Kojin Karatani’s Marx: Towards the Centre of Possibility has been among his most enduring and pioneering works in critical theory. Written at a time when the political sequences of the New Left had collapsed into crisis and violence, with widespread political exhaustion for the competing sectarian visions of Marxism from 1968, Karatani’s Marx laid the groundwork for a new reading, unfamiliar to the existing Marxist discourse in Japan at the time.

Exploring unexamined episodes in the school’s history and reading its work in unexpected ways, these essays provide ample evidence of the abiding relevance of Horkheimer, Adorno, Benjamin, Marcuse, Löwenthal, and Kracauer in our troubled times. 

Theoretically astute and practically relevant, The Conservation Revolution offers a manifesto for conservation in the twenty-first century—a clarion call that cannot be ignored.

Erik Olin Wright has distilled decades of work into this concise and tightly argued manifesto: analyzing the varieties of anticapitalism, assessing different strategic approaches, and laying the foundations for a society dedicated to human flourishing. How to Be an Anticapitalist in the Twenty-First Century is an urgent and powerful argument for socialism, and an unparalleled guide to help us get there. Another world is possible.

NOT AVAILABLE IN NORTH AMERICA

One of the most acclaimed essayists writing today on the political hysteria plaguing the West.

Taking as its inspiration the new wave of feminist militancy that has erupted globally, this manifesto makes a simple but powerful case: feminism shouldn’t start—or stop—with the drive to have women represented at the top of their professions. It must focus on those at the bottom, and fight for the world they deserve. And that means targeting capitalism. Feminism must be anticapitalist, eco-socialist and antiracist.

Jameson’s first full-length engagement with Walter Benjamin’s work.

The definitive collection of political writings from William Morris.

The austerity crisis and threat to disability rights: this new edition is updated this year, looking at the effects of Covid on disabled people.

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