In Join the Revolution, Comrade, Charles Foran brings to the essay form the same restlessness and originality that mark his novels and non-fiction. Foran visits places in Vietnam that have been ‘colonized’ by western war films, talks to Shanghai residents about their colossal city and commiserates with the people of Bali about the effects of terrorist bombs on their island. In Beijing he looks up old friends he had known back in 1989 during the days before and after the June 4th massacre. “Join the revolution, Comrade,” a friend had loved to say, quoting a line from a Bertolucci film. Foran also ‘encounters’ Miguel de Cervantes, the Buddha of Compassion, and the pumped-up American Tom Wolfe. He maps the geography of Canadian literature and pinpoints the ‘inner-Newfoundland’ of Wayne Johnston. He defends the novel against those who would tame it and uses an ancient Chinese philosopher to explain how one imagination — his own– works. Whether exploring the waterways of Thailand or the streets of his childhood in suburban Toronto, meditating on raising children in post-9/11 Asia or the music of good prose, Charles Foran’s writing is fresh, alert, and free of convention.
Charles Foran “[takes] us with him on a rich and reflective voyage as he skillfully navigates the clash of languages, cultures and points of view that travelling can trigger if you are wide-eyed, curious and eager to learn.”—Globe and Mail
“This is a wise and wide-ranging book, an impressive quest through culture, politics, and language. Provocative yet fair-minded, Foran’s REVOLUTION enlists us in the war of thought against cliché.”—Ronald Wright, author of A Short History of Progress
“With a steady confidence, playful language, and a willingness to probe ideas without providing answers, Foran covers a vast terrain in this collection. Whether discussing the effects of extreme pornography, the state of American fiction, the monstrous beauty of Shanghai, or the experience of living in and leaving Hong Kong during the SARS crisis, Foran takes seriously his role as a writer who’s alert and engaged with the world.”—Quill & Quire