The War of the Poor
Eric Vuillard, Mark Polizzotti
Longlisted for the International Booker Prize 2021
The fight for equality begins in the streets.
From the internationally bestselling author of The Order of the Day: Eric Vuillard once again takes us behind the scenes at a moment when history was being written.
The history of inequality is a long and terrible one. And it’s not over yet. Short, sharp and devastating, The War of the Poor tells the story of a brutal episode from history, not as well known as tales of other popular uprisings, but one that deserves to be told.
Sixteenth-century Europe: the Protestant Reformation takes on the powerful and the privileged. Peasants, the poor living in towns, who are still being promised that equality will be granted to them in heaven, begin to ask themselves: and why not equality now, here on earth?
There follows a violent struggle. Out of this chaos steps Thomas Muntzer: a complex and controversial figure, who sided with neither Martin Luther, nor the Roman Catholic Church. Muntzer addressed the poor directly, encouraging them to ask why a God who apparently loved the poor seemed to be on the side of the rich.
Eric Vuillard tells the story of one man whose terrible and novelesque life casts light on the times in which he lived – a moment when Europe was in flux. As in his blistering look at the build-up to World War II, The Order of the Day, Vuillard ‘leaves nothing sleeping in the shadows’ (L’OBS).
A short and incandescent text. * Le Monde * Vuillard is the master demystifier, who leaves nothing sleeping in the shadows. He is only civil when it comes to language, which he applies with a devastating irony and a grace that one rarely reads. -- Gregoire Lemenager * L'OBS * [A] compact, artful blend of history and fiction . . . in cinematic bursts of image and action . . . [Vuillard] never forces analogies with the present, but the uprisings he describes feel like part of a war destined to rage in any era beset by gross inequalities. * New Yorker *
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