Consider this example: Marvel Comics publishes Spider-Man, Sony makes a Spider-Man film or videogame, and your local queer fan-artist sells an art zine or print inspired by that film. There is a cost associated with each of these items: the floppy or trade collected comic; a cinema ticket or streaming subscription; the art print itself. But, there is no ethical consumption. ‘Illegally’ downloading or streaming the film, torrenting or finding a hosting site for the comic, or pirating the zine are all the same act: you are overcoming the monetary gatekeeping of art. With one exception: if you ‘steal’ from Marvel, Sony or any other megacorp you might even be doing some good (with reservations); if you do it to an artist who is trying to pay their bills, you’re an asshole.
Content warning: mentions of violence against women, police violence
From getting through that ‘to read’ backlog while stuck at home to reciting inspiring extracts at protests and on picket lines, we have read in many ways these past 12 months. As ever, at The Norwich Radical we believe in the written word as a world-changing source of joy, inspiration, education and hope. In this article, three of our contributors come together to share the best things they read in 2021, new and old. Each recommendation comes with a link to buy it direct from the publisher or on bookshop.org (where possible), but we encourage you to use your local bookshop in the first instance if you can. Happy reading!
Last week, as I walked past my housemate’s room, I overheard her in an online meeting with her dissertation supervisor. ‘My uncle’s a lecturer in the same topic,’ she said, ‘so he can help me with that.’ At the time, I marvelled at how convenient that must be. But then, I started to think about how frequently I see this: middle class students aided by family or family friends in their studies, often receiving a great deal of support and extra resources. Are there any instances, I wondered, where I as a working class student have benefitted educationally from family connections?
CW: sexual assault, rape
David Wiener’s TV adaptation of Huxley’s classic dystopia launched on Sky One and Peacock on July 15th 2020.
Set in New London – in a society where class is enforced by genetic engineering and hypnopaedic indoctrination, the use of the euphoric drug soma is universal, public orgies are wholesome fun and ‘mother’ is a swear word – Brave New World is a novel with many themes. One of them is misogyny and the mechanisms by which it is expressed and perpetuated. Consequently, the portrayal of the novel’s central female character, Lenina Crowne, and her relationship with John the Savage (the emotional core of the story) are huge contributing factors to the success or failure of any adaptation. Wiener faces the challenge of depicting a society he describes as ‘hugely problematic’ without condoning it, which raises questions about how the problematic aspects of the novel could, or even should be, adapted.
by Ananya Wilson-Bhattacharya
warning: this review contains spoilers.
When I learned that the BBC was airing the first ever television adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s award-winning teen novel, Noughts and Crosses, I was instantly intrigued. How would Blackman’s vision of an alternately racialised society play out on the small screen in 2020?
The speculative fiction novel (first of a series), published in 2001, follows a teenage friendship – later romance – between Callum, a member of the Nought (light-skinned) oppressed underclass, and Sephy, a member of the Cross (dark-skinned) ruling class. The adaptation is more adult, dramatic and violent – it also contains several new plot points.
by Laura Potts
Schools stand as institutions of education, aiming to enhance and aid growth in various forms. Children growing through the school system will eventually leave as adults. However, in my generation, there is a trend away from exploring a key part of adulthood: continued self education.
by James Anthony
The Forum is often described as a key landmark of Norwich, a grand glass structure which stands alongside City Hall and St. Peter Mancroft Church, overlooking the market. Intended as a building fit to mark the turn of the century, The Forum was opened in November 2001 and has since become one of the main meeting places in the city centre, truly a forum for the people of Norwich.
Many of those meeting there – enjoying pizza, coffee and the various exhibitions hosted within – may not realise the scale of destruction and loss of history that took place twenty-three years ago, pre-dating the grand building we know today.Continue Reading
by Richard Worth
We’ve just got through the new Tory annual tradition of having the nation vote on internal party issues and having the result batter the incumbent Prime Minister. And, whilst the result is somewhat bittersweet with comedy boob-patting socialist Jeremy Corbyn – aka ‘the future liberals want’ – tearing chunks out of the Conservative mandate, we are still left with a government formed of a crypto-nationalist, sexist, and regressive party and an actual nationalist, sexist, and regressive party.
The truth of the matter is that no one was sure what would happen before the election, or during it and now we’re on the other side it’s only fitting that British democracy remains chimerical, confusing and dare I say it, unstable (take that May!). As such I’d like, as I do every fortnight, to say a few words about the current position of the Arts.Continue Reading
by Eli Lambe
The Power is a profoundly affecting read. In it, Naomi Alderman envisions a switching of roles and of power dynamics, deftly parodying and reflecting back the ways in which we justify, enforce and understand gender roles.
It asks the question: “What if women were stronger than men; What if men had to be afraid of women?” and follows its core characters – Roxy, the daughter of a British crime boss; Tunde, a Nigerian journalist; Allie, an American foster kid who escapes an abusive household; and Margot, an American Mayor trying to balance her city in the wake of this sudden shift, and protect her daughters Jocelyn and Maddie – as the world progresses towards “Cataclysm.” Continue Reading
by Eli Lambe
Hopkinson’s writing is enchanting. Her words wrap around you and inhabit you, they turn your skin to bark, the wind into a goddess, your body lifts and falls with the lines of beautifully crafted prose. To read her work is to be transformed, transported, transcended. Her first novel, Brown Girl in the Ring (1998), explored community, magic, and family in a Toronto “hollowed out” by white-flight and financial catastrophe.
Her second, Midnight Robber (2000), used language — particularly dialect — and mythology to imagine, from a Caribbean perspective, “what stories we’d tell ourselves about our technology – what our paradigms for it might be” and to bring together ideas of storytelling, colonialism and trauma. Since then, she has published several other novels and collections, all of which are thoughtful, accessible and fundamentally affecting, the most recent of which is the subject of this review. Continue Reading