Protest in Prose

Georgetown LibraryStaff Picks

Protest in Prose

Literary Fiction about protest and activism

Distinct in motivation, nature, and consequence, acts of protest are also alike in their capacity to disrupt and demand recognition.

The following Literary Fiction titles depict characters engaged in various forms of activism, and their experiences reflect the diversity of what calls individuals to protest, the methods that they use, and the results of their actions, as well as the immediate sensation of the act of protesting.

Woven throughout all as well are the ways in which the personal can interact with the political, as these novels examine too how ideals are bolstered or thwarted by individual needs and wants, particularly the urge toward self-preservation. 

Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa
A diverse group of individuals coalesces around the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle, including unmoored 19-year-old Victor, his police chief father Bishop, and veteran protesters King and John Henry. As the WTO protests intensify and the police response escalates, these individuals and others collide among the chaos. 

Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem
Ousted from her Communist cell in 1955, New York firebrand Rose Zimmer also faces resistance from her daughter Miriam, a burgeoning activist who struggles against what she views as her mother's overbearance. Their relationship and choices over the years, as well as the experiences of those close to them, trace both the life of a family and the arcs of multiple political movements in 20th century America.

My Revolutions by Hari Kunzru
Drawn over his British youth from 1960s counterculture into more revolutionary protests in the 1970s, Chris Carver eventually abandons his activism for a more mainstream life under the name Michael Frame. However, when a fellow protester reappears years later, middle-aged family man Michael must reckon with his past and determine the role it will play in his life moving forward.

Eat the Document by Dana Spiotta
Lovers and partners in activism in the 1970s, Mary Whittaker and Bobby DeSoto must go underground separately after a Vietnam War protest turns violent. By the 1990s, though, their individual paths threaten to intersect in Seattle, where Mary's son Jason investigates his mother's past as a new movement draws interest.   

Pearl by Mary Gordon
At Christmas in 1998, Maria Meyers receives a call that her daughter Pearl, studying in Dublin, has chained herself to the American embassy flagpole six weeks into a hunger strike. As Maria and Pearl's surrogate father Joseph Kasperman travel to Ireland to be with a hospitalized Pearl, the pasts, choices, and beliefs of all three come to light.