Francis Spufford - Red Plenty (4 stars)

Francis Spufford - Red Plenty


Talk about a revolution. Francis Spufford’s reimagining of the mid 20th century utopian Soviet dream is a refreshingly audacious melding of historical fact into presumed fiction. Red Plenty puts Communist leader Khrushchev and American president Eisenhower in the same milieu as a roll-call of model workers and revolting peasants while a sleek sci-fi future based on misguided optimism gradually caves in on itself.

If the planned economy sounds like a dry subject for such a sprawl, think again. Spufford’s approach may be exhaustively detailed, but it’s also a self-consciously playful piece of meta-fiction that comes complete with more than 50 pages of notes and a full bibliography. Yet, beyond such archness is an epic re-reading of a much misunderstood and often romanticised era that casts a serious eye on its subject beyond its comic style, creating a glorious myth out of a past gone mad that never quite found its future.