Novels for the Not-Yet-Socialists: Young Adult Fiction

We asked members of the YDS Coordinating Committee what novels they might give to a younger sibling this holiday season or what had influenced them. If you have a young adult on your gift list, you might want to check them out (or read or re-read them yourself). We encourage you to order from a local independent booksellerEd.

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The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath is a unique coming-of-age novel. Protagonist Esther Greenwood gets an internship at an upscale magazine in New York City. Rather than being the bright-eyed college student drawn by the allure of the city, she begins questioning her path in life and slowly spirals into depression. Throughout her struggle with depression she questions the role of women in society and the pressure they have to take on domestic duties. Greenwood consistently questions the oppressive patriarchal society of America in the mid-20th century. Greenwood is a strong female character whom young women can look to when searching for their feminist identity. - Shelby Murphy

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Capital—In Manga! Karl Marx’s ground-breaking work is as relevant today as when first published in 1867. Our current chaotic “boom and bust economy,” coupled with the mass exploitation of a truly international work force, makes Marx’s analysis of the laws of capitalist motion extremely useful to organizers. Introducing people, especially young readers, to Marx’s tome, however, is a difficult task given its length and denseness. Luckily, Capital—In Manga!, published in 2012 by Red Quill Press, provides a graphic, novelized introduction to key concepts of Capital. The story follows Robin, a young cheese-maker, who confronts moral dilemmas and class contradiction as his company grows. Capital—In Manga! is a must-have for young people who are interested in Marx but unsure of where to start. 
- Andee Sunderland

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Most people on the left have had that “aha!” moment, when radicalization began. Mine started in my early childhood with books, and with a few books in particular. One of them was Dune, by Frank Herbert. Dune is set in the arid desert of Arrakis, where the most valuable natural resource of them all can be found, spice. Spice is so valuable that wars are fought over it, lives are risked to mine it, and treaties have been made to stop one nation from monopolizing it. The protectors of this desert are called Fremen, who live in what I would call something very near the last stage of communism. This book is one of the greatest works of science fiction, and anyone who loves the genre should read it, many times if possible. - Femi Agbabiaka

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Ray Bradbury paints a dismal, dystopian future in his classic novel Fahrenheit 451, where it has become a social norm for people to spend their time watching television and listening to the radio without engaging in critical thinking or even appreciation of the world around them. Books, in Bradbury’s dystopia, are not only banned, but actively sought out and burned by “firemen.” The story follows the awakening of fireman Guy Montag, as he realizes the value of books while recognizing how dangerously conformist society has become. Despite its simplistic story line, the novel presents a powerful reminder of the dangers of conformity and censorship. Fahrenheit 451 warns of the toll censorship and the resulting conformity will take on society. As socialists, we should heed this warning by challenging censorship as it appears. - Melody Yee

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Persepolis is an autobiographical graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi. It’s divided into two sections that tell the story of her life both before and after the Islamic revolution in Iran. The first part covers her childhood in Iran during the Islamic Revolution, with part two picking up with Marjane attending high school in Vienna and then carrying on through her return to Iran for college, her marriage, divorce, and leaving Iran to live in France. I recommend this novel because it does a fantastic job of showing that regardless of the differences among global leaders, the people aren’t all that different. - Jacob Curry

Other Resources:

www.bustle.com/articles/18681-5-amazing-young-adult-novels-starring-characters-of-color

www.xojane.com/entertainment/diversify-your-ya-six-books-with-minority-main-characters

www.malindalo.com/2013/10/ya-books-about-lgbt-characters-of-color/

http://disabilityinkidlit.wordpress.com/

http://flavorwire.com/457048/15-teen-feminist-books-everyone-should-read/view-all

Film Discussion: The Price We Pay

January 30, 2017
· 53 rsvps
The Price We Pay blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance — the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, tax havens - and what we need to do to stop this.  DSA member Bill Barclay, who has a cameo role in the film, will facilitate the discussion. Watch the film prior to the discussion.

Full film available on Vimeo.

How to Plug in New Members

February 01, 2017
· 20 rsvps

Is your DSA chapter growing quickly and you're trying desperately to find ways to plug new members into your chapter's work? Never fear! On this conference call an experienced DSA organizer will go over the basics of new member outreach and developing a plan for plugging new members into your chapter's work. Most of the call will be devoted to troubleshooting specific issues you're facing, so please brainstorm some issues beforehand that you want to bring up on the call.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 7 PM PT.

Film Discussion: Salt of the Earth

February 05, 2017
· 12 rsvps

Join DSA members Shelby Murphy and Deborah Rosenfelt in discussing Salt of the Earth, a captivating film made in 1954 by blacklisted writers and actors about a strike at a New Mexico zinc mine. Well before the resurgence of feminism in the 1960s, these filmmakers were exploring gender inequality and solidarity. Available on Netflix.

Shelby Murphy is a Latina from Texas and former Young Democratic Socialists co-chair. Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, Deborah Rosenfelt researched the making of the film and its aftermath for the reissued screenplay. Here is her blogpost about the film.

 

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 5 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But also check out the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 12 rsvps

Join DSA member Jason Schulman to discuss the film Rosa, directed by feminist filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta. View it here at no cost before the discussion. Marxist theorist and economist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) played a key role in German socialist politics. Jason edited Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and has a chapter in Rosa Remix.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 4 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion.