Click on the player below to listen to the podcast talk or read CW's live blogging with Hari Kunzru: My Revolutions.
4:04 | The Pressure Valve Having three books published, does Kunzru feel pressure when facing his next book. He says he felt intense pressure following the publishing of his first successful novel. "For a long time I sat staring at the cursor flashing in the left hand corner of the screen ... I thought I'd never write anything other than grocery lists at this rate," he quips. But after he got over his insecurities and found the enjoyment again, he hasn't had a problem. "Now I'm probably more critical of my work than anyone else in the world is," he says. Critics be damned!
4:01 | A Sense of Urgency "When did you know you needed to write THIS book?" asks an audience member. "For the novels I have had published, there's been that sense of urgency, that shapeless quality of necessity to write," replies Kunzru.
3:49 | Going Left "There was almost a competition to see who could go furthest left," says Kunzru about the political revolutionary ideals of the time. It became part of an identity, a way for people to justify killing or violence rather than trying to work things out politically or diplomatically. Another audience member asks if Kunzru views this as possibly rising again. "The kind of political story that people thought was unfolding at the time turned out not to be true," says Kunzru, "but whether or not we see these sorts of political ideas emerge again--when people feel the system as is is about to collapse--who knows. If at some point [things] just snowball much further and the market seems less like a sustaining mechanism ... then we may see people search for these sort of total solutions for complex bottom up level processes." Seeking the latter is not something Kunzru thinks is very successful, though he also feels that total faith in the market system is naive as well. "I don't think politics is dead," he says.
3:46 | Driving Force Nury Vittachi asks, "What drives the book? Did Chris Carver come first as a character with a really dark secret, or did you think 'I'm going to write about people in the 60s and how their world view has changed?'" Kunzru answers that it was more the character that came first. "If you think of the socialist revolution through the eyes of a young person in the 1960s, how would the iPod world of today look to you?" he posits. "I realized that there's such a fine line between someone who's able to look back through the misty-eyed world of academia at this period," he says "and there begins a novel framework." Kunzru continues, "Many people don't even know that there was leftist sort of political violence going on in London at the time. As I got more nerdy in my research, I decided I wanted to excavate this more obscure part of British history and put it in its context."
3:44 | Conflict What ideas is Kunzru playing with? In an abstract way he's playing with the notion of justified uses of force to achieve an end. When is it and is it not permissible? Is it ever? He tries to think about politics and these sorts of larger questions relating to political movements through a more relatable microcosm, taking the ordinary and trying to understand how regular people can do the obscene, the unpredictable, or the unheard of.
3:38 | You Pigs, You F*cking Pigs Characters Chris and Anna confront a group of bourgeoise elites at a party, Anna daring Chris to stand up and confront the people he professes to dispise, knowing that he actually desires their good opinion. She moves forward, slapping a man's glass out of his hand and screaming at him that he's a pig. Nervously, Chris follows suit and they make their way through the party, insulting everyone on their way.
3:28 | Crossing Boundaries Kunzru prefaces another reading by explaining that the main character, Chris, is enamoured with a woman, Anna, who is really the driving force of their group, a very dominant and powerful personality. But, he's dating another woman, Ursula, who he doesn't feel much for beyond a strong sexual attraction. Oh, the injustice.
3:27 | Energizer Bunny Clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk! Wow ... this construction is really bloody irritating.
3:19 | The Work Kunzru begins to add a section from his latest book, My Revolutions. Kunzru's reading isn't bad but he doesn't quite have the flair of the previous author Rob Gifford whose style was a bit more flamboyant and engaging.
3:17 | The Building "Every day is drilling day!" replies the crowd when Kunzru asks why the drilling persists on a Saturday. "The building of the new China," says Kunzru. How true (though it's actually the building of the LAN Club up the street).
3:15 | The Lead Up We're hanging here in The Glamour Bar getting ready for the next show. After individually blogging each session, all of us have managed to congregate in the same room. So we've got myself, Emily and Jessica (your CW editing team) keeping an eye on this one. Nury Vittachi and Paul French are also hanging out in the room, checking out this talk.