Thursday, December 22, 2011

Top 10 stories of reluctant revolutionaries

Selma Dabbagh is a British Palestinian writer of fiction based in London.

Her writing is mainly set in the contemporary Middle East. Recurring themes in her work are idealism (however futile), placelessness, political engagement (or lack thereof) and the impact of social conformity on individuals.

Dabbagh’s first novel, Out of It, is being published by Bloomsbury (UK) this month; the US edition is coming out with Bloomsbury USA in June 2012.

One of her ten favorite "novels depicting private struggles with public commitment," as told to the Guardian:
Middlemarch by George Eliot

A scientific, not a social or political, revolution drives Dr Lydgate in this classic novel. He is a man who is ultimately ground down by the materialistic ambitions of his wife and the reactionary stagnation of Middlemarch. His wife Rosamund, is a precursor to the suburban wives who were depicted as being the anchors of conformity and superficiality by the Beat Generation and other 1950s American writers. In the same way that the husbands in Mailer and Salinger are pulled back from realising their potential for personal freedom and social change, Dr Lydgate's idealistic momentum, forward-thinking plans and fervour for reform are ultimately laid waste by narrow domestic concerns.
Read about another entry on the list.

Middlemarch also made John Mullan's lists of ten of the best marital rows, ten of the best examples of unrequited love, ten of the best funerals in literature, and ten of the best deathbed scenes in literature, as well as Philip Pullman's six best books list, Rebecca Goldstein's five best list of novels of ideas and Tina Brown's five best list of books on reputation. It is one of Elizabeth Kostova favorite books. While it is one of Miss Manners' favorite novels, John Banville and Nick Hornby have not read it.

--Marshal Zeringue