At the time of writing, we’re five days into a new decade and our Prime Minister seems to be missing, we’re teetering on the edge of war and part of the world is literally on fire. Considering such a catastrophic list of what-the-f**keries, it’s easy to feel despondent. But it’s times like these, when the world seems to be losing its collective mind, that I look to the written word for comfort.
Resist: Stories of Uprising is a hefty, compelling read. I won’t lie, it took me quite some time to delve into its pages. That’s not because it isn’t any good, I was just so exhausted by overthinking the state of the world. Post-election, I switched off the news, took some time away from Twitter, hid under a blanket and self-medicated with Quality Street, Baileys and Christmas films. I resumed reading the anthology in the run-up to New Year with a renewed optimism and, to my surprise, I wolfed the entire thing.
I usually read anthologies in chunks, a little before bed or during my lunch break, but it only took three days to finish Resist. Perhaps the promise of a new decade renewed my appetite for something vaguely political? After all, there’s nothing like the blank canvas of a new year to inspire optimism and change. Whatever happened, Resist, published by Manchester-based Comma Press, turned out to be just the tonic I needed – and a truly insightful read (even if I did have to Google some of the events).
Edited by Comma Press’s Ra Page, the anthology includes essays and fictions from writers such as Kamila Shamsie, Bidisha, Eley Williams and Lucy Caldwell. It’s a powerful collection and well worth the read so please don’t be daunted by the subject matter if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the world. My advice would be to switch off the television, mute social media and open this book to find answers, inspiration and (hopefully) a renewed sense of purpose. “In the age of fake news and post-truth politics, this book chooses to fight fiction with (well researched, historically accurate) fiction,” writes Page.
The book re-imagines 2,000 years of British protest and covers campaigns to change laws, protests against unlawful acts, uprisings “successful and unsuccessful” and spans Boudica to the tragedy of Grenfell Tower. For me, the standout reads are Shamsie’s Savage, Zoe Lambert’s Seeds and Julia Bell’s Fear in Your Water, but each entry is superbly written and has something of value.
If nothing else, Resist reminds us that while fascism is (unfortunately and bewilderingly) nothing new, each time it has raised its monstrous head, there has always been an overwhelming resistance to its existence. So, if – like me – you’re feeling saddened and worried about recent political divisions and the grim rise of the far right, why not look back through history, take heed and remember that we can, and need, to resist.
By Emma Yates-Badley, Literary Editor
Resist: Stories of Uprising is published by Comma Press and available to buy now.