At a time in society where political demos and protests are rife, Comma Press’ anthology Resist is a significant historical read, considering mass strikes and resistance since the times of Boudica to the neglectful incident of the Grenfell Tower. With fictionalised accounts from Kamila Shamsie, Eley Williams, Donny O’Rourke and Lucy Caldwell among many others, there is a wonderful variety of writing that covers historical events from the Dagenham Strikes to the Radical Wars, the Tottenham Riots to the Battle of Cable Street. With historical accounts alongside each of these essays, this book thoroughly explores radical uprising spanning from 60AD.
The format of the book is wonderful, a fictional account, followed by the historian’s validation, before moving through the chronological anthology of times of uprising and moments where people took a stand. As aforementioned it begins at 60AD and takes us right up to 2017. It by no means covers every story of resistance but it doesn’t do too badly (it is well over 400 pages in length).
And like with every other anthology the variety of authors keeps it thought-provoking, the writing style often shifting and the angles for the stories moving in ways that you wouldn’t expect. The Done Thing for example, by Luan Goldie, considers the Ford Dagenham Strike from an alternative perspective. A granddaughter’s discovery of her gran’s involvement with the strike leaves her in awe, having seen the fictionalised film. This account gives it more of a human edge than the film, with the twist at the end. But it is techniques such as this, throughout Resist that makes it worth the read, rather than picking up a memoir or a historical textbook. The stories about the Battle of Cable Street, the Notting Hill Riots, at times they seem as true today as they did back then, and a relevant read for anyone trying to make sense of today’s society. But what is most beneficial from this anthology is the sense of hope it offers, hope that comes from organised collective responsibility to stand against the oppressive times. I almost feel that Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark should come as a bundle package with this anthology from Comma Press, the two go very much hand in hand.
Resist: Stories of Uprising is available now, published by Comma Press