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Seven compete for new radical book prize

Radical publishing took another significant step forward this week as the shortlist for the first annual Bread and Roses award for radical publishing was announced. The Alliance of Radical Booksellers is putting up a £1,000 prize for the winning author, whose name will be announced on May 1.

The award aims to promote the publication of radical books, raise the profile of radical publishing and reward exceptional work. It’s being sponsored by booksellers such as News From Nowhere and Housmans, publisher Five Leaves and media partners, the Morning Star included.

The judges panel includes children’s novelist and poet Michael Rosen, lecturer and feminist author Nina Power and the director of Liverpool’s annual Writing on the Wall Festival, Madeline Heneghan. Housman’s Nik Gorecki says:

It is the only book prize in the UK with what could be described as an explicitly left-wing entry criteria. The central involvement of radical bookshops in the establishment and running of the Bread and Roses award also really sets it apart from other book prizes.”

The shortlist consists of seven books:

‘Counterpower: Making Change Happen’ by Tim Gee
New Internationalist, £9.99

What makes some campaigns succeed while others fail? In this accessible primer on power and rebellion, Tim Gee encourages us to think critically about the forces at work in struggles as diverse as the women’s suffrage movement and the Arab Spring. Counterpower provides today’s activists with inspiration for the future.

‘Debt: The First 5,000 Years’ by David Graeber
Melville House, £21.99 (Hardback)

Contrary to the fairytales told in economic textbooks, human beings didn’t start with barter, discover money, and then develop credit systems. In fact, as anarchist and anthropologist David Graeber argues in this wide-ranging work, drawing on a vast panoply of evidence, exactly the reverse is true. Moreover – and whether we recognise it or not – debt has been at the heart of our political and moral systems ever since.

‘Tweets from Tahrir: Egypt’s Revolution as it Unfolded, in the Words of the People Who Made it’ edited by Nadia Idle and Alex Nunns
OR Books, £8.00

The story of the Egyptian uprising – through the toppling of Mubarak – by the people who made it, told in 140-or-fewer-character Tweets. Editors Nadia Idle and Alex Nunns have created an inspiring and coherent narrative that not only explains the evolving strategies of both sides but also allows the participants’ personalities to shine through.

‘Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class’ by Owen Jones
Verso, £14.99

In order to deflect blame from their own role in increasing inequality and decreasing social mobility, Britain’s political and media elites have wilfully promoted the notion of the working class as an object of fear and ridicule. Expertly researched and highly topical, Owen Jones’ book is already a bestseller in radical bookshops around the UK.

‘Magical Marxism’ by Andy Merrifield
Pluto Press, £17.99

Urban theorist Andy Merrifield imagines a Marxism that moves beyond the stale debates about class and the role of the state, drawing inspiration from – and connections between – The Invisible Committee’s ‘The Coming Insurrection’, Guy Debord’s ‘Society of the Spectacle’ and Gabriel García Márquez’s ‘Hundred Years of Solitude’. Highly readable.

‘Penny Red: Notes from the New Age of Dissent’ by Laurie Penny
Pluto Press, £12.99

Whether filing a report from inside a police kettle in Whitehall or analysing the feminist implications of Stieg Larsson’s ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, Laurie Penny’s writing is always sharp as a knife. Angry and articulate, this is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand and engage with the new generation of UK activists.

‘Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World’ by Nicholas Shaxson

Nicholas Shaxson’s exposé of the mechanics of tax havens reveals a collusion between governments and the wealthy that perverts democracy, sidesteps the law, and leaves the poorest paying the price. Clear, gripping and incendiary, this is an essential primer for anyone trying to understand today’s global economy.

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