top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

Books, Politics, Power

By Caroline Dowse, Konstantopoulou, Megan Cradock, Zalak Shah and Ana Cecilia Matute


Writing is a political act. There is arguably nothing more powerful than encapsulating one’s reality onto paper, ephemeral thoughts now preserved in time. Books are perpetual in nature; they can revive past perspectives into the present, continuously shaping our future. Indeed, the power of the written word cannot be underestimated, especially when those words reflect present societal issues. Below are five books, selected for those who enjoy satirical fiction of the status quo.


The Circle by Dave Eggers


Technology and privacy are a great concern for many people today, and The Circle turns that concern into a terrifying reality. Mae Holland is a new employee at a corporation specialising in surveillance technology. She loves her new life at the glamorous headquarters, but a mistake brings her to the attention of her boss. Mae is selected for a new company initiative, “Transparency,” where she is forced to wear a camera that broadcasts her life to the world. Despite her growing success as an influential figure, her fame starts to isolate her from the people she loves.


This cringe-worthy narrative considers the reality of digital privacy and exemplifies how corporations can abuse this power. You may come away from reading The Circle feeling a little paranoid about screens.


Normal People by Sally Rooney


Connell and Marianne come from County Sligo – which is apparently the only similarity these two characters share. Polarising in all aspects; male/female; working class/middle class; popular/misfit; their lives couldn’t be more different. Rooney navigates the reader along the span of several tumultuous years; in high school Marianne is nicknamed the ‘weirdo,’ while Connell receives the feigned respect associated with popularity. Several years down the line, however, we follow these two protagonists to college where roles end up reversed. In Dublin, Marianne grows into a confident and social individual, and in depressive irony, Connell comes face-to-face with an anxious, closed-off version of his past self.


Through her sharp writing and spacious plot, Rooney highlights important points about capitalism and the complexity of social class. Somehow, Marianne and Connell become the epitome of star-crossed lovers, but the question is, will they be able to settle their differences, or will Rooney withhold the happy ending we inevitably crave?


The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood


Set in the Republic of Gilead in a dystopian future, this book provides a terrifying warning to those reading it in the present. Atwood's novel follows Offred, a Handmaid to a Commander. Set in a world where pregnancy is rare due to a global infertility crisis, Offred is no longer a free woman, she is instead owned by the government. In this world, women are not allowed to read, they cannot own money and may only leave the house once a day to go to the market. All Handmaids in the Republic of Gilead have one job: to provide the Commander and his wife with a child.


But Offred remembers a time before, when she had a husband and a daughter, when she was free and had rights. A chance to reclaim that freedom presents itself and a chain of events unfold, changing everything Offred has come to know.


Astonishing, scary and strikingly relevant, Attwood's critique of the present through a dystopian future continues to fascinate readers.


Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh


Train to Pakistan is a historical fiction novel set in 1947 during the partition of India and Pakistan. The village of Mano Majra has seen people from different backgrounds live peacefully with each other for decades. Untouched by the religious conflict of big cities, this peace is shattered after a ghost train arrives, filled with corpses of people trying to flee their homes. Overnight, the village is swallowed by the horrors of Civil War.


Through this tragic account, we witness the impact that one political decision has on ordinary citizens, as one of the bloodiest times in history, forcing people to abandon their homes, lives, neighbours, and families and turn against each other.


A story of love, revenge, politics and lost lives, Train to Pakistan asks its readers a very important question; when the moment comes, will you stand up for your friends and neighbours or let momentary hate take over your morality?


Minor Detail by Adania Shibli (Translated by Elisabeth Jaquette)


Discover the powerful act of writing through Minor Detail, a heartbreaking novel set in Palestine during two pivotal moments in history. First, in 1949, a true story depicting the detention of an Arab Bedouin Palestinian girl by Israeli soldiers. Then, years later, in a land now controlled and occupied by another, a Palestinian woman tries to discover what had happened all those years ago.


As Adania Shibli writes, “sometimes it is inevitable for the past to be forgotten, especially if the present is no less horrific.” For this reason, reflecting on such historical events through books like these, empowers people in the present to act for their future.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page