A powerful new novel about the Russian Revolution
Winds of October is the first of a trilogy of novels by Alan Gibbons, the well known children’s author and campaigner.
The story, intended for adults, is centred on events as they unfold in Petrograd. It is told through the lives and relationships of its characters.
Raisa is drawn into the revolution through her experiences as a former prostitute. Her lover, Elena, is a young lesbian Bolshevik factory worker.
Kolya is a student who emerges as a new young Bolshevik leader.
Pavel is a young soldier in love with Raisa, but who has to face the consequences of his lover Nina’s pregnancy.
The story follows the main contours of the revolution from the women workers striking on International Women’s Day, through Lenin’s return and the arguments for socialist revolution.
It charts the revolts of the July days and General Kornilov’s attempt to take back power before the final triumph of the October insurrection.
But this is no super-flattering account of Lenin and the Bolsheviks. This is real men and women, arguing and debating every step of the way, sometimes with the Bolsheviks and sometimes against them.
Individuals grasp the opportunity to make history and change their personal lives, others doubt anything will really change.
Raisa comes face to face with former “clients” and wonders if men can be different.
Some characters insist on the use of violence to deal with counter-revolutionaries who have just shot their comrades, others are against.
All of this takes place in a Russia bleeding from war and dying of hunger. When a royal palace is plundered of all its leather, Elena points out that workers and soldiers need boots.
Indeed, the contrast between opulence for the ruling class and squalor for the masses opens the novel when Raisa’s services are sold to the aristocracy.
Her brutal fight to survive that encounter stands as an allegory for the revolution as a whole.
I really enjoyed Winds of October and look forward to the sequels, Reason in Revolt and Spurn the Dust.
Winds of October by Alan Gibbons
Circaidy Gregory Press £8.99
Portrait of Palestine
Tower Hamlets Palestine Solidarity Campaign have produced a full colour A4 2018 calendar based on the work of Socialist Worker cartoonist Tim Sanders.
The 12 images were inspired by his trip to Palestine with Freedom Theatre last year.
It’s a perfect Christmas gift and is available for £10 plus postage from bookmarksbookshop.co.uk or the shop at 1 Bloomsbury Street, London WC1B 3QE.
Bulk orders are available from thpalestine firstname.lastname@example.org
Pop Art from North Africa
This exhibition features the artworks of 15 artists from North Africa who are all inspired by the Pop Art movement.
It looks at the way the successful themes from other continents and international icons come to hold new value and meaning when situated in a very different environment.
There is an implicit critique of the supposed “American-Western” superiority.
P21 Gallery, 21-27 Chalton Street, London NW1 1JD.
Free. Until 4 November. p21.gallery
This fundraiser for the Justice4Edson campaign remembers Edson Da Costa, who died in June after being stopped by police in east London.
It is hosted by radio DJ and comedian Johnny Cochrane and features El Nino, M REAPZ and Oracy.
Organised by Haringey Love Music Hate Racism and SpeakerBoxStreetParty.
Friday 17 November, 7pm, Kurdish Community Centre,
11 Portland Gardens, Haringey, N4 1HU |Tickets at eventbrite.co.uk