One of the main themes of Hari Kunzru’s novel My Revolutions is that the past can never be forgotten. Michael Frame, the novel’s protagonist, discovers this the hard way. He has been living a double life. As Miranda (who knows only half of Michael’s story) prepares a celebration for Michael’s fiftieth birthday, Michael’s past comes knocking at the door.
The novel is set in two different places in time. One is the novel’s present, near the end of the twentieth century. The other is the turbulent 1960s and 1970s. The Vietnam War is inflaming anti-war passions of young people in the United States and Europe. Michael appears in both of these settings. In the present, he is living with Miranda and helping to raise her daughter. In the 1960s, he is Chris Carver, a young British revolutionary.
The storyline switches back and forth between these two settings, showing the diametrically opposed sides of the protagonist’s life. In the present, Michael appears to be a bumbling fool, unable to speak to his wife or daughter and unable to put a definite finger on what he wants to do with his life. In the past, Michael plants bombs and philosophizes about the theoretical coming of a new society.
Detailed flashbacks frequently infringe on the present and the two sides of Michael begin to melt into one. The past sneaks up on him through the reappearance of people he knew in the 1960s—people he had run away from. Before the novel ends, Michael must confront his double life and confess to the two people that he loves, Miranda and Sam, before his past rips open the lie he has been living for more than sixteen years.