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Customer Review

25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Germinal for the 21st century, 4 May 2004
This review is from: GB84 (Paperback)
This is a remarkable novel that owes far more to Zola's Germinal than it does to James Elroy's novels. True, there is the fragmented dialogue and the astonishing ear for dialogue - the miners' diaries are amazing in their recreation of what it was like to be on the picket line, and the slow decline of the strikers' living standards and lives over the year. And there is the incredibly dark portrayal of the state's manoeuvres around the strike, but Peace is not a cynic, like Elroy, and he is dealing with a social struggle in a fundamentally positive way, unlike Elroy. Peace has heroes - the miners - whereas even the best characters in Elroy's utterly misanthropic books are thoroughly cynical and corrupted by their struggle. This isn't a joyful account of the strike, it is a truer than life portrayal of the forces at work and of the incredibly dark outcome - anyone who doubts that should just look back over the last 20 years and wonder what would have been different (and better) if the miners had won. A very powerful novel, which anyone who was involved in the strike will want to read; those too young to remember it should grab with both hands to understand what went on and why. The parallels with Germinal carry on right to the end, although viewed through a darker glass than Zola used. A fantastic read.
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