Daniel Randall (The Ruby Kid) on ’16 THE AGE OF DISCONTENT

Daniel recommends that you buy the book.

2016 has been a strange year so far. I’m writing this in late September, so I suppose it’s possible that some cataclysmically normal event might occur in the final few months of the year that will restore balance and make us think it wasn’t such an odd year after all. But, I doubt it. 

This is a period in which doctors have placed themselves in the industrial vanguard of the working class, and a serial backbench rebel socialist MP has won the leadership of the Labour Party by landslides, twice. Strange times indeed. 

Sometimes it has felt like the world was collapsing around us. Brutal wars across the globe, generating a humanitarian crisis on a scale not seen for a generation, and a rising tide of nationalism that swept Britain out of the European Union. But in amongst the horror, always, the glimmers of resistance and hope – sometimes spectacularly expressed, sometimes more quietly, but always there. 

This collection is an account of both the seeming collapse and the sparks of hope – as raucous, irreverent, simple, complex, poignant, funny, whimsical, and profound as a document of such a strange time should be. 

These are poems, but they are also conversations between friends, workmates, neighbours, and comrades – a fitting register for a collection aimed fundamentally at chronicling human experience. 

Some of the poems collected here, like ‘The Strike Train’, ‘If You Can’t Beat ’Em, Cheat ’Em’, and ‘The Eleventh Commandment’, were written in direct response to (indeed, in the service of) labour-movement struggles. Others, like ‘Wondering Eyes’ and ‘Man At The Border Post’, respond to global-scale world events. All express Janine’s deep commitment to working-class internationalism, socialist-feminism, disabled people’s liberation, and taking every opportunity to mock and lampoon the mendacity and hypocrisy of the rich and powerful. 

Chroniclers of 2016: abandon your plans for a tedious TV talking-heads review of the year featuring Paul Ross. Read this book instead. 

Daniel Randall (The Ruby Kid)


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