My Revolutions: A Novel

My Revolutions: A Novel

by Hari Kunzru


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“Powerful” (The New Yorker), “extraordinary” (The New York Times Book Review), and “brilliant” (Entertainment Weekly)—you won’t be able to put down this novel by the award-winning bestselling author of White Tears and The Impressionist

Critics have compared him to Martin Amis, Zadie Smith, Tom Wolfe, and Don DeLillo. Granta dubbed him “one of the twenty best fiction writers under forty.” In My Revolutions, Hari Kunzru delivers his best novel yet.

Chris Carver is living a lie. His wife, their teenage daughter, and everyone in their circle know him as Michael Frame, suburban dad. They have no idea that as a radical student during the sixties, he briefly became a terrorist, protesting the Vietnam War by setting off bombs. Until one day a ghost from his past turns up on his doorstep, forcing Chris on the run.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780452290020
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/30/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Hari Kunzru, author of White Tears and the award-winning and bestselling novel The Impressionist, was named as one of Granta’s “20 Best Fiction Writers Under 40.” The Impressionist was a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist; was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, and a British Book Award; and was one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Novels of 2002. Kunzru has written for a variety of English and international publications, including The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, The London Review of Books, and Wired.

Reading Group Guide

Michael Frame plays it safe – he’s a stay-at-home, suburban dad to stepdaughter Sam and a supportive husband to businesswoman Miranda. In fact, as far as Sam and Miranda are concerned, Michael’s past is a vague but uncomplicated territory – it’s almost as if he didn’t exist before he came into their lives.

This is almost the truth. Michael Frame is not who he says he is; he is not who he has been for the past two decades. He’s actually Chris Carver, a fugitive from the law and ex-member of one of the most volatile and infamous revolutionary groups of 1960s and 70s London. He’s managed to keep his former identity a secret, however, and to forget about this tumultuous part of his existence, until two chance encounters force him to face his past.

While on holiday in France with Miranda, Chris sees someone he never thought to see again: Anna, the charismatic and passionate leader of the protest-cum-terrorist group to which he once pledged allegiance – a woman who supposedly died while seizing an embassy in Copenhagen. And on his return from France, Chris finds himself confronted by a mysterious man named Miles, someone who wants Chris to recognize the person he once was and publicly admit to his former transgressions against the government, risking the life he’s worked so hard to build with Miranda and Samantha, under the identity of Michael Frame.

My Revolutions is a book about coming full circle: about coming to terms with one’s mistakes and fears, and sifting through memory and emotion for the greater truth. By remembering who he used to be, Chris becomes more comfortable with the idea of who he’s become: a man with regret and sorrow, a man who no longer fights for peace in the world, but instead seeks to find some small semblance of it within his own person.


Hari Kunzru, author of the award-winning and bestselling novel The Impressionist, was named as one ofGranta’s “20 Best Fiction Writers Under 40.” The Impressionist was a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist; was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, and a British Book Award; and was one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Novels of 2002. Kunzru has written for a variety of English and international publications, including The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, The London Review of Books, and Wired.

  • How well does Hari Kunzru evoke the political and social climate of London during the 1960s? Does it feel genuine? Did anything about his depiction surprise you? What did you find most compelling or interesting?
  • How much do you believe Chris’ family life played a part in his convictions as a young man? What episodes or events in particular must have pushed him to reject complacency and suburban materialism? Did you see any similarities between family members and the people he surrounded himself with later on in life?
  • What parallels do you see between today’s antiwar youth and the antiwar youth depicted in this book? Do today’s protesters have the same passion and drive as the ones described in My Revolutions? Were youth in the 60s more politically and socially aware? Consider the benefits and dangers of being passionate about one’s place in the world.
  • Why do you think Chris held fast to the belief that Anna was the girl who threw the stone at the police officers during the riot in Grosvenor Square? In what ways did he mythologize his friend and lover, and how much was he responsible for his own disappointment in her? Discuss the different parts of their lives where she may or may not have failed him – as a friend, a lover, and as a co-conspirator.
  • At what point did the group’s transformation from a collection of mostly student protestors to a fearsome crew of radical extremists become complete? Discuss the landmark changes in the group “Thirteen,” and their actions, that revealed a more driven, purposeful, and dangerous political faction. When did they start to become a real threat to the government and to the citizens of London?
  • Discuss Workshop Thirteen’s association with the Middle Eastern terrorists. Was it inevitable? To what extent did their collaboration with the terrorists deter the group from their original goals, or did the alliance simply cement a natural change in the group’s political and social convictions? Would they have arrived at the same place, politically, without the terrorist faction’s aid?
  • After he spent the weekend at the music festival (inadvertently with Miles), was Chris’ isolation from the other members of Workshop Thirteen and subsequent house arrest and interrogation justified? How much were Chris’ friends responsible for his eventual betrayal? Discuss the ramifications of the interrogation and what it revealed about the quality of Chris’ relationships with these people and the depth of their political convictions.
  • Were you surprised when Chris stole the group’s money and used it to travel around the world? What surprised you more – his theft, or his betrayal of the group when he informed on them to Miles? Is his guilt justified when he reads about their deaths at the hands of the police a few months later? Did his reaction (heroin addiction) feel authentic?
  • Chris cites Saul has his saving his life when the American vet discovers Chris in Thailand, destitute and addicted. Why do you think Saul went to so much trouble for Chris? Had they been great friends back in London? What did Saul’s action say about both men – about the kind of persons they were underneath all of the political posturing? Why do you think Saul found Chris worth saving?
  • When Miles admitted his role as a government agent to Chris, were you surprised? What parts of the book, in hindsight, foreshadow this revelation and allow it to make sense? Do you find Miles a morally reprehensible character, or do you find him at all sympathetic? What makes him either a “good guy” or a “bad guy”? (Or is he both?)
  • Did you hope that Anna was alive at the end of the novel? What would it have meant for Chris if she had been alive? In what direction might the story have gone? (i.e. Discuss why or why not Anna’s death is very necessary to Chris’ character development.)
  • Why does the novel end with Chris’ phone call to Miranda, but not the actual conversation? Is the outcome of his conversation with her important? Is it predictable? What do you think is the most significant part of this action? (What does it mean for Chris emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, morally, etc.?)
  • Customer Reviews

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    My Revolutions 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
    Tinwara on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Interesting topic, yet not entirely satisfying.Michael Frame - alias Chris Carver - is the narrator of the story, which deals with his life as a member of the radicalising peace/hippy movement in the 1960's and '70's and his life as a fugitive in the 1990's. The book has an interesting chronology, skipping through time, backward and forward, which makes it lively. It tries to work out how the mainly peaceful alternative subculture of the 1960's radicalised into an extremist and violent movement in the 1970's. The Chris Carver character is a kind of observer; he is involved, yet he remains vague to the reader. It seems as if his main drives are a vague notion of having to improve society and a crash on a powerful girl. So on the one hand, he is the main character, on the other hand, he isn't really, because he is mainly observing others and events happening around him. I guess this is why I had troubles connecting to the story, or to the main character. I felt as if I was reading a chronology of events. Demonstrations. Meetings. Actions. Attacks. But I missed the inner development of the main character. Also his flight to Asia, his addiction, stay at a monastery, return to England and his undercover existence seemed a bit unlikely and cliché. So I enjoyed this novel less than I thought I would
    jameskilgore on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    This works as a story if I can distance myself from it as something I want to be authentic. Having lived many years as a fugitive I don't think Kunzru quite captures it. The lead character seems incredibly vague politically and the scenes of him with his adopted daughter really don't work for me. The notion of him informing and then running away seems like an author's plot twist device rather than something that feels authentic. But when I stand back from my desire for it to be authentic the book has some coherence and the tension holds throughout.
    brianinbuffalo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    An interesting look at the winds of rebellion blowing through London in the 1970s. I found the author's all-too-frequent shifts from present to past and vice versa more distracting than enticing. The story also tends to get bogged down in what some might consider heavy-handed propaganda. But the characters we meet along the way are unique.
    Opinionated on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    A great book, highly recommended. Loosely based on the activities of the Angry Brigade in the late 60s and early 70s it is a superb and highly convincing account of how a small group of activists become more and more cut off from reality, more and more mutually dependent and mutually destructive and how sexual tension and sexual politics drive even more extreme action. It would be easy to deal in charicatures but Kunzru draws his characters with so much sympathy that you end up caring deeply about what are essentially very unloveable, selfish, malicious individuals and being touched by the futility of their behaviour - the vast majority of their actions pass unremarked by press or public. And as the main protagonist Michael / Chris, tries to forget his past and hide in a bland suburban family life, Kunzru brings out how unsatisfying the replacement of idealism with the quest for money and material goods really is. Better passionate belief in a losing cause, than the current belief in nothing Kunzru seems to be saying. Hard to disagree with that point of view. A complex, passionate, engaging and brilliant book
    Cariola on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Hari Kunzru's first novel, The Impressionist, has been at the top of my list of favorite contemporary novels for several years now. Sadly, his next two ventures have not lived up to his first--although I do give him credit for trying something completely different with each new novel. In My Revolutions, a wanted 1970s radical, married to a woman who owns a burgeoning herbal cosmetics company, learns that his cover is about to be blown. Much of the book is a memoir of sorts as Michael/Chris mulls over his past and remembers his political cohorts, including the beautiful and enigmatic Anna. Far too much political ranting for my taste. Although I assume that Kunzru meant his readers to make some connections between then an now, I just got bored with all the windy diatribes about "pigs," "fascists," bombs, takeovers, etc. by whiny, self-centered, immature young people It was enough to make me wish they had all gotten blown up in their last fiasco.I admire The Impressionist and Kunzru's style and humor enough that I still will look forward to his next novel, but this one was a big disappoinment.
    ChazzW on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I was about eighty pages into Hari Kunzru¿s novel when I suddenly realized what his book, what the voice, remanded me of: Gregory David Roberts Shantaram. It has the same confessional this is the life I¿ve led style, the this is how I got here feel. The first person voice seems very similar.But where Roberts¿ narrative is more straight forward linear, Kunzru has a way of weaving in and out, with long looks back breaking up his story, though they don¿t have that typical flashback feel. It¿s a comfortable reading experience and I liked the style very much.Kunzru immerses the reader in the radical times in London of the 70¿s. I¿m not as familiar with that side of the radical underground, having more familiarity with the counterparts in the US (being of that generation as I am) and even that of Germany and Italy. Reading this book I was also reminded of the feelings I had upon viewing a Gerhard Richter exhibition at MOMA back in 2002. Part of that exhibit was his series entitled October 18, 1977. Images of it kept flickering in my mind as I read Kunzru¿s novel.Kunzru probes deeply into the psyche of the radical mind, and it all has a meticulous base of authenticity. At times, the details of the day-to-day workings of the radical cell border on the tedious, but this is a small quibble in a book that very nicely engages the reader in the parallel paths of the making and unmaking of a radical.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    The writing is intelligent, the story never lags, and the conclusion believable. Have decided to read other books by this author.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    Like his first novel, 'The Impressionist', Hari Kunzru's latest is about the nature of identity and re-invention of self. In 'My Revolutions', former 60's radical Michael Frame is living a quiet suburban life as a bookseller with his wife Miranda, who runs a cosmetics company that boasts of its 'natural botanicals' while factory-producing them. He's kept his past a secret from his wife and step daughter: that of a zealous anti-Vietnam War protester named Chris Carver who blew up buildings as part of a leftist group that included his occasional lover Anna Addison. Now (in 1998), while on a French holiday, Michael glimpses someone who may be Anna, who he thought had been killed years before in a terrorist act. Shortly thereafter another old acquaintance from his revolutionary days, Miles Bridgeman, tracks Michael down and begins blackmailing him, threatening to expose Michael's former identity. With one foot in a past that is about to pounce on him, Michael struggles to re-connect with Anna and stay one step ahead of Miles. Michael's youthful experiences, in which he is first drawn into the counterculture, are vividly rendered, and his present-day travails and staid family life illustrate the difficulty in retaining some sense of idealism while leading a peaceful modern existence. A relatively short book with no shortage of thought-provoking ideas, and better yet, characters that, with all their contradictions and hypocrisy, are real and engaging. Also recommended: 'A STRANGER LIES THERE' - a superior desert-noir about a former 60's radical who's never forgiven himself for his part in a violent anti-Vietnam War action that left three dead. His past catches up with him one morning in the form of an unidentified corpse on his front lawn. 'A STRANGER LIES THERE' won the Malice Domestic Award for best first mystery, and earned 'two thumbs way up' from the Barnes&Noble Editorial Review. It explores some of the same themes as 'My Revolutions' does, within the framework of an engrossing mystery.