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So You Think You Know About Britain?
Kind, reasonable, sane and very much evidence-based, this book is a valuable reminder that the view of the country given out by tabloid newspapers and irresponsible government speeches is false and unhelpful. Danny Dorling’s work has changed my life because he is able to argue reasonably (and more coherently than I ever could) for a kind of society that would be fairer, more functional and more socially responsible. The last chapter ‘The future is another place’ inspired my last stand up show. Plus it’s got loads of funny footnotes, too.
This book was given to me as a Valentine’s gift by my childhood sweetheart. It’s largely about how to improvise onstage but it’s almost a manual for creative thought and behaviour. It taught me all about spontaneity and confidence as well as storytelling. The book’s driving message is about finding and then trusting and keeping your own sense of authenticity in your creative work.
I first read this aged 13 and I found it thrilling and empowering right from the Juan Ramón Jiménez quote at the start: ‘If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.’ That sense of creative defiance set something off in me. Clarisse and her family, who are seen as suspicious and radical because they talk to one another and go on walks together, were my favourite characters. I love how it feels dystopian and realistic all at once, and I think it’s a very poetic book in style but also full of action like a bloody good film.
Slapstick or Lonesome No More
Finding the books of Kurt Vonnegut was like finding a much-needed friend. The tone of his writing connected with me and I think it has inspired me more than anyone else’s. All of his books, even ones that seem deeply sad or dour, are underpinned by a kindness and deep love of other human beings. He taught me about socialism and humanism in a sincere and meaningful way, while staying silly and also keeping his chapters short, which is a big plus point in my opinion. This is my favourite of his.
V for Vendetta
Alan Moore is another very inspiring human being. His integrity and intellect are poured into everything he writes and it’s very helpful to have them around. I love this graphic novel, and my favourite part is this: ‘Everything is connected. You must understand that knowledge is not all your heritage. It includes also courage and belief . . . and romance. Always, always romance.’ It gives me courage and helps me feel more audacious about trying to make the world closer to how I’d like it.
The Easter Parade
A lot of the fiction I love is terse, American and sad, and written around the middle of the 20th century. Richard Yates is the most wonderful example. Everything he has written is good, but there’s something most devastating about The Easter Parade. It’s about two sisters who want to be happy and are not. I really love the way that Yates can pace a novel over a character’s entire life, showing them to have little control over their flaws and their circumstances.
For similar reasons to choosing Richard Yates, I love the work of Raymond Carver. I know it’s a bit of a cheat to choose his collected stories but I don’t know how I’d choose one volume of his over another. I love how sparsely written but affecting his work is, and I’m a sucker for someone writing within a quite tragic universe. I think it’s masterful and unparalleled what he manages to do with short stories.
The Whitsun Weddings
I think this is the most lyrical of Larkin’s volumes of poetry, and it was the first I bought (with a book token I won as a nerdy teen in a creative writing competition). I just think it’s fantastic, and I can read it again and again. It’s very sad, and full of sympathy and not cynicism, which I think he gets wrongly accused of. It’s not in this volume but I’ve been thinking a lot recently of a quote from one of his uncollected poems ‘The Mower’: ‘We should be careful/Of each other, we should be kind/While there is still time.’
Hsiao-Hung Pai meets people affected by the fire, and finds sadness and suffering mixed with a continuing wariness of the official investigations
Chris Williamson MP, winner of the election's tightest marginal, Derby North, and recently reappointed shadow minister for fire services, talks to Ashish Ghadiali about Jeremy Corbyn, the housing crisis and winning from the left
The Corbyn-supporting group is preparing for another election at any moment, writes Adam Peggs – and now has the potential to create powerful training initiatives, union links and party reform efforts
’We believe in you. We are with you. We will never forget.’ Grenfell solidarity sweeps East London in mass banner drops from housing estates
Michael Calderbank profiles Jeremy Corbyn's new supporters in parliament
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continues to witness devastating political violence, but the world refuses to act. Ishiaba Kasonga and Serge Egola Angbakodolo ask why?
When fire safety has become a privilege for the rich, it’s time to stop austerity and fund emergency mass works to raise standards immediately, writes Jane Shallice
The election result has irreversibly changed political discourse in the UK, writes James Fox
In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Bernie Grant's election to parliament, Ayo Wallace explores the life and legacy of his radical representation of Tottenham's black communities.
Across Britain, hundreds of thousands of people have now taken part in mass rallies for Corbyn's Labour. Eli Regan soaks up the atmosphere in Warrington
Contribute to Conter – the new cross-party platform linking Scottish socialists
Jonathan Rimmer, editor of Conter, says it’s time for a new non-sectarian space for Scottish anti-capitalists and invites you to take part
Editorial: Empire will eat itself
Ashish Ghadiali introduces the June/July issue of Red Pepper
Eddie Chambers: Black artists and the DIY aesthetic
Eddie Chambers, artist and art historian, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali about the cultural strategies that he, as founder of the Black Art Group, helped to define in the 1980s
Despite Erdogan, Turkey is still alive
With this year's referendum consolidating President Erdogan’s autocracy in Turkey, Nazim A argues that the way forward for democrats lies in a more radical approach
Red Pepper Race Section: open editorial meeting – 11 August in Leeds
The next open editorial meeting of the Red Pepper Race Section will take place between 3.30-5.30pm, Friday 11th August in Leeds.
Mogg-mentum? Thatcherite die-hard Jacob Rees-Mogg is no man of the people
Adam Peggs says Rees-Mogg is no joke – he is a living embodiment of Britain's repulsive ruling elite
Power to the renters: Turning the tide on our broken housing system
Heather Kennedy, from the Renters Power Project, argues it’s time to reject Thatcher’s dream of a 'property-owning democracy' and build renters' power instead
Your vote can help Corbyn supporters win these vital Labour Party positions
Left candidate Seema Chandwani speaks to Red Pepper ahead of ballot papers going out to all members for a crucial Labour committee
Join the Rolling Resistance to the frackers
Al Wilson invites you to take part in a month of anti-fracking action in Lancashire with Reclaim the Power
The Grenfell public inquiry must listen to the residents who have been ignored for so long
Councils handed housing over to obscure, unaccountable organisations, writes Anna Minton – now we must hear the voices they silenced
India: Modi’s ‘development model’ is built on violence and theft from the poorest
Development in India is at the expense of minorities and the poor, writes Gargi Battacharya
North Korea is just the start of potentially deadly tensions between the US and China
US-China relations have taken on a disturbing new dimension under Donald Trump, writes Dorothy Guerrero
The feminist army leading the fight against ISIS
Dilar Dirik salutes militant women-organised democracy in action in Rojava
France: The colonial republic
The roots of France’s ascendant racism lie as deep as the origins of the French republic itself, argues Yasser Louati
This is why it’s an important time to support Caroline Lucas
A vital voice of dissent in Parliament: Caroline Lucas explains why she is asking for your help
PLP committee elections: it seems like most Labour backbenchers still haven’t learned their lesson
Corbyn is riding high in the polls - so he can face down the secret malcontents among Labour MPs, writes Michael Calderbank
Going from a top BBC job to Tory spin chief should be banned – it’s that simple
This revolving door between the 'impartial' broadcaster and the Conservatives stinks, writes Louis Mendee – we need a different media
I read Gavin Barwell’s ‘marginal seat’ book and it was incredibly awkward
Gavin Barwell was mocked for writing a book called How to Win a Marginal Seat, then losing his. But what does the book itself reveal about Theresa May’s new top adviser? Matt Thompson reads it so you don’t have to
We can defeat this weak Tory government on the pay cap
With the government in chaos, this is our chance to lift the pay cap for everyone, writes Mark Serwotka, general secretary of public service workers’ union PCS
Corbyn supporters surge in Labour’s internal elections
A big rise in left nominations from constituency Labour parties suggests Corbynites are getting better organised, reports Michael Calderbank
Undercover policing – the need for a public inquiry for Scotland
Tilly Gifford, who exposed police efforts to recruit her as a paid informer, calls for the inquiry into undercover policing to extend to Scotland
Becoming a better ally: how to understand intersectionality
Intersectionality can provide the basis of our solidarity in this new age of empire, writes Peninah Wangari-Jones
The myth of the ‘white working class’ stops us seeing the working class as it really is
The right imagines a socially conservative working class while the left pines for the days of mass workplaces. Neither represent today's reality, argues Gargi Bhattacharyya
The government played the public for fools, and lost
The High Court has ruled that the government cannot veto local council investment decisions. This is a victory for local democracy and the BDS movement, and shows what can happen when we stand together, writes War on Want’s Ross Hemingway.
An ‘obscure’ party? I’m amazed at how little people in Britain know about the DUP
After the Tories' deal with the Democratic Unionists, Denis Burke asks why people in Britain weren't a bit more curious about Northern Ireland before now
The Tories’ deal with the DUP is outright bribery – but this government won’t last
Theresa May’s £1.5 billion bung to the DUP is the last nail in the coffin of the austerity myth, writes Louis Mendee
Brexit, Corbyn and beyond
Clarity of analysis can help the left avoid practical traps, argues Paul O'Connell
Paul Mason vs Progress: ‘Decide whether you want to be part of this party’ – full report
Broadcaster and Corbyn supporter Paul Mason tells the Blairites' annual conference some home truths
Contagion: how the crisis spread
Following on from his essay, How Empire Struck Back, Walden Bello speaks to TNI's Nick Buxton about how the financial crisis spread from the USA to Europe
How empire struck back
Walden Bello dissects the failure of Barack Obama's 'technocratic Keynesianism' and explains why this led to Donald Trump winning the US presidency