Redemption

Tariq Ali, Author
Tariq Ali, Author Random House (UK) $23.95 (280p) ISBN 978-0-7011-3394-8
Reviewed on: 12/01/1990
Release date: 12/01/1990
Distinguished radical historian Ali ( Revolution from Above ) takes as the subject of his first novel the impact on the left of recent events in Eastern Europe. His lighthearted approach to a world congress of Trotskyists, convened to reassess their theories in the wake of the changes sweeping through the Communist bloc in the winter of 1989-1990, is both unexpected and welcome. Calling the congress is Ezra Einstein, grand old man of the movement, an activist of reason and discernment surrounded by faction fighters so bizarre as to seem nearly insane. Ali paints convincing portraits of some of the nuttier participants, including opera star Laura Shaw, traveling with the embalmed corpse of her political guru; the compulsively conspiratorial Frenchman known only as the Cuckoo; and an American sect leader with a thinly disguised God complex. For many readers, the intricate machinations at the Congress will seem baffling (although no more so than the real-life divisions they satirize), but for anyone who has ever been even remotely involved with the radical left this will be a hilarious trip down memory lane. The broad comedy turns surprisingly and movingly sentimental in the final pages, as one generation of leftists dies away and new one is, quite literally, born. (Dec.)
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