What drives youth to believe that they can and must change the world, no matter how great the sacrifice? And how does their struggle change them? The Bookbinder poses these questions in two historical moments, the Paris Commune of 1871 and the globe today.
In 1870, 17-year old apprentice bookbinder Étienne Bonin travels from revolutionary Lyon to even more revolutionary Paris seeking excitement and professional opportunity, and by the spring of 1871 is deeply committed to the insurrection for workers’ power, a new lover and his new comrades, while experiencing festive celebrations, institutional innovations, military disasters and the final “week of blood” that threatens to annihilate the Commune and its ideal.
In a parallel story, an American journalist on sabbatical in Spain has been given an advance copy of THE BOOKBINDER and as he reads it is stirred to rethink his own youthful revolutionary optimism and current crises of wars, refugees, terrorism and populism. Meanwhile, as we see in his journal entries, a new relationship with a Cuban lover is further unsettling his old views on social revolution.
For a draft of Chapter 33 of The Bookbinder, click here.