At a time that feels unprecedented in British politics – with unlawful prorogations of parliament, casual race-baiting by senior politicians, and a climate crisis that continues to be ignored – it’s easy to think these are uncharted waters for us, as a democracy.

But Britain has seen political crises and far-right extremism before, just as it has witnessed regressive, heavy-handed governments. Much worse has been done, or allowed to be done, in the name of the people and eventually, those same people have called it out, stood up, resisted.

In this new collection of fictions and essays, spanning two millennia of British protest, authors, historians and activists re-imagine twenty acts of defiance: campaigns to change unjust laws, protests against unlawful acts, uprisings successful and unsuccessful – from Boudica to Blair Peach, from the Battle of Cable Street to the tragedy of Grenfell Tower. Britain might not be famous for its revolutionary spirit, but its people know when to draw the line, and say very clearly, ‘¡No pasarán!’

This project has been supported by the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust and the Lipman-Miliband Trust, as well as Arts Council England.

Part of Comma's 'History-into-Fiction' series. 

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About the author

Julia Bell is a writer and Director of the Creative Writing MA at Birkbeck, University of London. She has published three novels, most recently The Dark Light (Macmillan, 2015). Her essays and short fiction have appeared in The White Review, Times Literary Supplement, Paris Review, Mal Journal, the BBC, and numerous anthologies. She is the co-editor of the newly re-issued Creative Writing Coursebook (Macmillan, 2019). She divides her time between London and Berlin.

Bidisha is a writer, TV and radio broadcaster and film-maker. She specialises in human rights, social justice, gender and the arts and offers political analysis and cultural diplomacy tying these interests together. Her most recent book is Asylum and Exile: Hidden Voices, based on her outreach work with asylum seekers and refugees. Her most recent film is An Impossible Poison which has been highly critically acclaimed and selected for multiple film festivals internationally.

SJ Bradley is an author and short story writer from Leeds, UK. She is a K. Blundell Trust Award winner, and a Saboteur Award winner for her work on Remembering Oluwale. She is director of the Northern Short Story Festival and Fiction Editor at Strix magazine. Her second novel, Guest, is now available from Dead Ink Books.

Jude Brown has had short stories published in several anthologies and her work has been shortlisted for the Bridport and Raymond Carver Short Story Prizes. She is a winner of a Northern Writers’ Award and her debut novel His Dark Sun, supported by a grant from Arts Council England, was selected for this year’s New Writing North’s Read Regional campaign. Originally from Middlesbrough, she has lived in London, Liverpool, Reading and Sydney. She now lives in Sheffield and has an MA in Creative Writing from Sheffield Hallam University.

Lucy Caldwell was born in Belfast in 1981. She is the multi-award-winning author of three novels, several stage plays and radio dramas, and two collections of short stories (Multitudes, 2016, and Intimacies, forthcoming in May 2020). She is also the editor of the anthology Being Various: New Irish Short Stories (Faber, 2019). Her story ‘The Children’ was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award 2019.

Steve Chambers is an experienced writer and dramatist. His political thriller, GLADIO: We can Neither Confirm nor Deny (Zymurgy), won a Newcastle Journal Culture Award. His feature film, Hold Back the Night (Parallax Pictures), won the Prix du Public Forum at Cannes while his adaptation of Graham Swift’s Waterland for BBC R4 won the WGGB Best Radio Dramatisation. Currently, he is writing a novel, The Dark Months, and developing ideas for radio and stage.

Martin Edwards’s latest novel, Gallows Court, has been nominated for both the 2019 eDunnit award for best crime novel and the CWA Historical Dagger. He was recently honoured with the CWA Dagger in the Library for his body of work and has received the Edgar, Agatha, H.R.F. Keating and Poirot awards, two Macavity awards, and the CWA Short Story Dagger. He is consultant to the British Library’s Crime Classics and President of the Detection Club.

Uschi Gatward’s stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Best British Short Stories 2015 (Salt), The Mirror in the Mirror (Comma), as a Galley Beggar Press Single, and in the magazines The Barcelona Review, Brittle Star, gorse, The Lonely Crowd, Short Fiction, Southword, Structo and Wasafiri. She was shortlisted for The White Review Short Story Prize 2016.

Luan Goldie was born in Glasgow but has lived in East London for most of her life. She is a primary school teacher, and formerly a business journalist. She is the winner of the Costa Short Story Award 2017 for her story ‘Two Steak Bakes and Two Chelsea Buns’. Her short stories have also been long and shortlisted by Spread the Word and the Grazia/Women’s Prize First Chapter competition. Her debut novel Nightingale Point was released in July 2019 by HarperCollins.

Gaia Holmes lives in Halifax. She is a cat/dog/house sitter, freelance writer and creative writing tutor who works with schools, universities, libraries and other community groups throughout the West Yorkshire region. She runs ‘Igniting The Spark’, a weekly writing workshop at Dean Clough, Halifax. She has published three collections of poetry, Dr James Graham’s Celestial Bed, Lifting the Piano with One Hand, and Where the Road Runs Out (all with Comma).

Nikita Lalwani is the author of three novels – Gifted, The Village and You People, which will be published in June 2020. Her work has been longlisted and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Costa Prize and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, and she is a winner of the Desmond Elliot Prize and the Edoardo Kihlgren award. Her novels have been translated into sixteen languages. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and lives in London. 

Zoe Lambert’s first collection of short stories, The War Tour, was published by Comma in 2011. She has an MA in Creative Writing at UEA and a PhD from Manchester Metropolitan University. She is currently a lecturer in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Lancaster. 

Anna Lewis has won the Orange/Harper’s Bazaar short story prize, been twice shortlisted for the Willesden Herald International short story competition, and been highly commended in the Commonwealth Foundation short story prize. She is a Hay Festival Scritture Giovani fellow. Her new poetry collection, In Passing, is due from Pindrop Press in 2019. 

Irfan Master is the award-winning author of two novels for young adults, A Beautiful Lie, which was shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize and the Branford Boase Award for debut authors, and Out of Heart, which was longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal for children. He also writes plays, poetry and has contributed short stories to numerous anthologies.

Editor, translator, commentator and critic, Donny O’Rourke has published several volumes of poetry and albums of song lyrics. A graduate of the universities of Glasgow and Cambridge, he has had overlapping careers as a journalist, broadcaster, television producer, film-maker and academic. The holder of many international fellowships, visiting professorships, bursaries and residencies, Donny teaches Film and Creative Writing at Glasgow University. This is his first short story.

Kamila Shamsie is the author of seven novels, which have been translated into over 20 languages. Her most recent novel, Home Fire, won the Women’s Prize for Fiction, was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and one of Granta’s ‘Best of Young British Novelists’, she grew up in Karachi, and now lives in London. 

Born to Jamaican parents who arrived in Britain in the 1960s, Karline Smith was one of the first black female crime writers to deal with the subject of drug gangs in inner-city Britain. She is the author  of three novels, Moss Side Massive, which was dramatised by Liverpool’s Unity Theatre, Full Crew, and Goosebumps and Butterflies are Fairy Tales (published by Black Sapphire Press). She is also the author of several short stories, variously published in The City Life Book of Manchester Short Stories (Penguin), and M.O.: Crimes of Practice (Comma). She is currently working on her fourth novel.

Kim Squirrell is a writer and artist. She has published poetry and short fiction and collaborated with actors, dancers and musicians in environmental theatre productions and site-specific performance. She was included in the Out of Bounds anthology (Bloodaxe, 2012) and more recently took part in the Out of Bounds Poetry Project. Kim is currently in her final year of a Creative Writing MA at the University of Exeter and was shortlisted for the 2018 Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction. 

Lucas Stewart is a writer from Birkenhead and has spent 20 years living in Asia and Africa. A Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and former literature advisor to the British Council, his political travelogue, The People Elsewhere: Unbound Journeys with the Storytellers of Myanmar (Penguin/Viking, 2016) was shortlisted for the 2018 Saroyan International Prize for Writing.  He co-edited Hidden Words, Hidden Worlds, the first anthology of short stories from Myanmar published in the UK. His own short fiction has been published in Asia and the UK winning the 2018 Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction.

Eley Williams is a writer and lecturer based in Ealing. Her collection of short stories Attrib. And Other Stories (Influx Press) was chosen by Ali Smith as one of the best debut works of fiction published in 2017 and has since won The James Tait Black Prize 2018 and The Republic of Consciousness Prize 2018. Eley teaches both creative writing and children’s literature at Royal Holloway, University of London, where she was recently awarded her doctorate. Twice shortlisted for The White Review Short Story Prize, her works have appeared in the London Review of Books, the White Review, Ambit and the Cambridge Literary Review. She has published one pamphlet of poetry, Frit (Sad Press).

Ra is the founder and Editorial Manager of Comma Press. He’s the editor of numerous anthologies, including The City Life Book of Manchester Short Stories (Penguin, 1999), co-editor of The New Uncanny (winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, 2008) and Litmus, voted one of 2011’s books of the year by The Observer. Between 2004 and 2013 he was also the coordinator of Literature Northwest, a support agency for independent publishers in the region (until it formally merged with Comma). He also coordinates Comma Film, an on-going film adaptation project which regularly commissions filmmakers and animators to adapt short literary texts (poems and short stories). He is a former journalist, having been Deputy Editor for City Life magazine, and a former Director of Manchester Poetry Festival. His critical work has been published in The Journal of the Short Story in English, and he’s been a producer, co-writer and co-director on a number of short film projects. He read Physics and Philosophy at Balliol College, Oxford and has an MA in English from the University of Manchester.

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Additional Information

Comma Press
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Published on
Oct 17, 2019
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Fiction / Anthologies (multiple authors)
Fiction / Historical / Ancient
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Fiction / Short Stories (single author)
History / Europe / Great Britain / General
Juvenile Nonfiction / History / General
Literary Collections / General
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Fascism & Totalitarianism
Political Science / Political Process / Leadership
Political Science / Political Process / Political Parties
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