Revolution

The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the Sandinistas

Deb Olin Unferth

St. Martin's Griffin

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Hailed as a “virtuosic one-woman show” (Time Out New York) this New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice pick tells the funny and poignant story of the year the author ran away from college with her idealistic boyfriend and followed him to Nicaragua to join the Sandinistas.

Despite their earnest commitment to a myriad of revolutionary causes and to each other, Deb and her boyfriend find themselves unwanted, unhelpful, and unprepared as they bop around Central America, looking for "revolution jobs." The year is 1987, a turning point in the Cold War, although the world doesn’t know it yet, especially not Unferth and her fiancé (he proposes on a roadside in El Salvador). The months wear on and cracks begin to form in their relationship: they get fired, they get sick, they run out of money, they grow disillusioned with the revolution and each other.  But years later the trip remains fixed in her mind and she finally goes back to Nicaragua to try to make sense of it all.  Unferth’s heartbreaking and hilarious memoir perfectly captures the youthful search for meaning, and is an absorbing rumination on what happens to a country and its people after the revolution is over.

 

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Reviews

Praise for Revolution

"This is a very funny, excoriatingly honest story of being young, semi-idealistic, stupid and in love. If you have ever been any of these things, you'll devour it."--Dave Eggers

“Revolution calls itself a memoir, but Deb Olin Unferth’s tale of dropping out of college to join the Sandinista revolution is something altogether stranger and more dazzling.”--Time Out New York

“There is something in Unferth's combination of spare language and intelligent observation, her darts of emotional insight shooting through a highly personal screen, that is reminiscent of Joan Didion. That's a lot to live up to, but the two writers share a sense of beauty and loss and get something on the page that implies something else just out of reach.”--Los Angeles Times

“Unferth’s application of her imagination to her subject…evokes what David Foster Wallace refers to as ‘the click,’ a feeling one gets when reading work that’s firing on all cylinders.”--Christopher Sorrentino, Bookforum

“Unferth surely can write...You find yourself re-reading descriptions…simply for the pleasure of the language.”--Chicago Tribune

“[O]ne of the best memoirs of the past several years. It's a difficult book to stop reading; Unferth is charming, charismatic, and breathtakingly smart… [Revolution is] more than enough to catapult Unferth into the ranks of America's great young writers.”--Bookslut

“The uniqueness of its love story sneaks up on you.”--The Week

“Unferth’s depiction of the futility of Deb’s odyssey is devastatingly frank…At the heart of Revolution is Unferth’s slightly eccentric take on the venerable confusion of the political and the personal…how does one become a person? How is the person to be made?”--Madison Smartt Bell, The Nation

“The book is sly, devastating, and savagely funny, with style to spare.”--Boston Phoenix

 

“This clearheaded and funny memoir captures the grit and chaos of a tumultuous moment in Central American history, but it’s really a coming-of-age story.” Mother Jones

“Hers is a bildungsroman for the Believer set… impossible to dislike…The jokes are crisp and understated, the sentences clean and knapped.”--New York Observer

“Eighteen and in love, the possibilities seem endless in this endearing coming-of-age book, in which the author returns years later to Nicaragua to come to terms with that tumultuous period in both world history and her own life.”—New York Post

“Here’s the beauty in this very funny, very sweet, magnificently written short memoir: being young and in love and on a noble quest...maybe I know better but it sounds just grand!”--Jewish Book World

“Unferth writes with a beautiful insouciance…[T]his is good and bad news — love doesn’t go away. It just doesn’t go away — it changes into something else. Amen.”--Newsday

“Unferth's surprising voice and precise rendering lend her memoir its particular power.”--Flavorpill New York

“The way you’ll actually feel, reading [Revolution], is too big to name, too expansive and breathtakingly great to minimize.”--Corduroy Books

“Revolution is a ruefully funny memoir that surprises and delights at nearly every turn—through style, subject matter, and a chronological structure that hiccups with flashbacks and flash forwards.”--The Rumpus

“Unferth writes with a sly, understated appreciation for the absurd…A dryly humorous memoir of love, travel and wide-eyed idealism.”--Kirkus

“[Unferth] excels with a wry, self-deprecating voice that propels the tale forward.”--Publishers Weekly

“[Unferth] creates a memoir of unique lucidity, wit, and power.”—Booklist

 

"Deb Olin Unferth is one of the most ambitious and inspirational writers working today. Her memoir of idealistic, bewildered people-in-training befell me like a fever for which, I'm happy to report, there appears to be no cure. An encounter with Unferth's prose is to be permanently, wondrously afflicted by its genius."--Heidi Julavits, author of The Uses of Enchantment

 

"Revolution is the best of many worlds: misconceived youth, sharp humor and sharper characters, and mostly, for me, the chance to witness a brand of paragraph-to-paragraph artistry that is much too rare."--John Brandon, author of Citrus County

 


In the Press

REVOLUTION by Deb Olin Unferth | Kirkus Book Reviews
Read the Kirkus Review of REVOLUTION The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War. Chronicle of the chaotic year during which two-time Pushcart Prize&ndash;winning author Unferth (EnglishWesleyan Univ.; <em>Vacation<em>, 2008, etc.) and her then-boyfriend went from being college coeds to aspiring communist revolutionaries in Central America.
- Kirkus Reviews


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About the Author

Deb Olin Unferth

Deb Olin Unferth is the author of the story collection Minor Robberies and the novel Vacation, winner of the 2009 Cabell First Novelist Award and a New York Times Book Review Critics' Choice. Her work has been featured in Harper's Magazine, McSweeney's, The Believer, and the Boston Review. She has received two Pushcart Prizes and a 2009 Creative Capital grant for Innovative Literature and was a Harper's Bazaar Editors' Choice: Name to Know in 2011. She teaches at Wesleyan University and currently lives in New York.

Deb Olin Unferth

Margaret Olin
Deb Olin Unferth

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Available Formats and Book Details

Revolution
The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the Sandinistas
Deb Olin Unferth

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
St. Martin's Press
St. Martin's Griffin
February 2012
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9781250002686
ISBN10: 1250002680
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 224 pages
$14.99

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Henry Holt and Co.
February 2011
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429992121
ISBN10: 1429992123
224 pages
$9.99
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