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Paco Ignacio Talbo II, 'Calling All Heroes: A Manual for Taking Power'

PM Press, 2010; ISBN 978-1-604-862-05-8; 128pp; £8.99

If you could choose any of the characters from your childhood reading, who would you invite to help you spark a revolution? James Bond? Harry Potter? Badger from The Wind and the Willows?

If you’re the central character in Paco Igancio Taibo’s tricksy novella – one of PM Press’s new “Found in Translation” series – you choose Sherlock Holmes, Doc Holliday, D’Artagnan, Dick Turpin, the Light Brigade, and then throw in some Mau Mau fighters for good measure.

Set in the wake of the infamous October 1968 Tlatelolco massacre (in which Mexican troops opened fire on student demonstrators, killing some 200 people just ten days before the country staged the Summer Olympics), activist-turned-journalist Néstor lies delirious in a hospital bed, recovering from a stab wound.

Unable to broaden its base, the movement – one of the best organised and moderate of the student movements of ’68 – was crushed, and Calling All Heroes vividly captures both of the horror of the repression and the “painful regression” of those activists “who had known moments of euphoria and freedom – back to classes at an oppressive, defeated university in whose yards discouragement was eaten by the mouthful”.

Néstor finds his escape in his fanciful – and extremely bloody – insurrection. In his fantasy the people rise and victory is achieved. All of which left me musing, who would you invite to help you spark the nonviolent revolution?

Topics: Culture