My Revolutions Essay - Critical Essays

Hari Kunzru

Critical Overview

Kunzru’s novel My Revolutions, although praised by several reviewers, has not received a lot of popular attention. Overall opinion appears to be that it is a well–written novel but it is not Kunzru’s most popular work. This might be due to the historical subject matter, the uncomfortable era of the war in Vietnam. It might even be due to the protagonist, whose personality is a bit dry.

However, New York Times reviewer Will Blythe, taking in the significance of the time period that Kunzru covers in this novel, praised the author’s ability to recreate the feeling of those turbulent decades of the 1960s and 1970s, when revolution was on the minds of many youth around the world. Blythe also reads into Kunzru’s novel something that would easily be missed. He hears an underlying message or maybe even a warning about the present time. Blythe wrote that Kunzru “gives an amazingly convincing account of a period he never witnessed. . . . It is a measure of how respectfully Kunzru treats his characters’ yearning for a more generous time that My Revolutions feels less like an elegy for their era and more like a requiem for our own.”

Another reviewer, Jennifer Reese, writing for Entertainment Weekly, also praised Kunzru’s writing, especially when it comes to developing the arc of the protagonist’s transformation. Reese wrote, “Tracing the revolution of Michael’s character is an ambitious endeavor, and Kunzru pulls it off with panache.” Heather Paulson, of Booklist, found that Kunzru’s ability to write a “sharp, descriptive narrative” opens up a new world for readers. She wrote that Kunzru’s novel helps readers envision “a time of new thinking.”

David L. Ulin, writing for the Los Angeles Times, goes beyond examining Kunzru’s writing skills and looks more deeply into the themes of the story. He found in My Revolutions an expression that points to a way of finding a higher aspiration somehow embedded in the act of revolution. “At its heart,” Ulin said, “My Revolutions is an inquiry into the metaphysics of rebellion, a novel that frames radicalism as a spiritual path.”