Marx Returns

Marx Returns

The story of one man's struggle to write the book that will change the world.


Karl Marx is a revolutionary. He is not alone. It is November 1849 and London is full of them: a bunch of fanatical dreamers trying to change the world. Persecuted by a tyrannical housekeeper and ignored by his sexually liberated wife, Marx immerses himself in his writing, believing that his book on capital is the surest way of ushering in the workers’ revolution and his family out of poverty. But when a mysterious figure begins to take an obsessive interest in his work Marx’s revolutionary journey takes an unexpected turn...

Marx Returns combines historical fiction, psychological mystery, philosophy, differential calculus and extracts from Marx and Engels's collected works to reimagine the life and times of one of history's most exceptional minds, in this next fiction offering from Zero Books.


A rollicking, zany, hilarious, irreverential reconstruction of the life and world of Karl Marx. ~ G. M. Goshgarian, editor and translator of Louis Althusser's posthumous writings

Marx Returns creatively weaves together real historical events; imaginative flights of fancy from Marx’s point of view, meditating on the nature of capital, mathematics, and ontology; and an uptempo narrative that is at heart a familial drama about the experience of exile in the nineteenth century. ~ Rafael Khachaturian, Jacobin Magazine

An outstanding work of fiction that goes to the very heart of Marx's revolutionary thinking. ~ Slavoj Zizek, European Graduate School, Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities

The coming and going with history, with all the paths of these revolutionaries more or less lost, stranded in London; the references to new conceptual frameworks proposed by the sciences; a Jenny Marx who has so much in common with Joyce's Molly... In short, the chaosmos of Jason Barker's Marx and his struggles interests me in so many respects. ~ Pascal Bataillard, French translator, James Joyce's Ulysses

If you're inclined to doubt the dramatic potential of differential calculus then take my advice and read this marvellous novel. ~ Rachel Holmes, author of Eleanor Marx: A Life

An imaginative, uplifting, and sometimes disturbing alternative history. ~ Nina Power, Los Angeles Review of Books

An entertaining work of historical fiction. ~ Jacqui Freeman, Socialist Review

Set in a putrid pre-revolutionary London marinating in the miasma of oppression and exploitation, Marx Returns is an uncanny alt-fiction that blows the past out of the continuum of history to revivify Marx the man, his life and his thought for our own age. Mixing tragedy with farce, mathematics with alcohol, Marx Returns gives us a great new take on a grand old tale. ~ Justin Clemens, author of The Mundiad

An outrageously ingenious work. A thing of rare beauty. Jason Barker's writing is in a league of its own, and if you disagree then to the Ninth Circle of Hell with you. ~ Alex Taek Gwang Lee, Kyung Hee University

In the year of the Marx bicentennial anniversary Barker’s novel is an experimental and thought-provoking work, the type of counterfactual history that makes us question precisely why and how “Marx was right”. ~ Chris Rumble, Historical Materialism

Barker's book crosses the same terrain as Raoul Peck's film The Young Karl Marx, drawing together biography, narrative, and ideas, but it does so in a way that actively embraces fiction... Barker fills his novel with the sights and sounds of nineteenth-century London in the midst of the industrial revolution; reminding us that if "the forming of the five senses is a labor of the entire history of the world down to the present", then some of that history is also a forgetting, as the brutality of exploitation has been sanitized and moved out of sight. ~ Jason Read, Unemployed Negativity

Curious, funny, perplexing, and irreverent; an inspired divagation that casts unexpected light on Marx’s thought. ~ Ray Brassier, author of Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction

Barker conjures the true stakes of Marx’s tragedy which instead of ending in reconciliation, forces it to assume terrifying forms in its prospect of life after death, or of what somewhat ridiculously has come to be known as permanent revolution. ~ Ana Stankovic, Filozofski vestnik

For years we've been led to believe that "Marx was right". On the evidence of Jason Barker's debut novel, however, it seems we may have grossly underestimated him. Joyful, artful and playfully anachronistic, Marx Returns is a book you're unlikely to want to end. ~ Yong Soon Seo, Professor of Philosophy, Sungkyunkwan University

Jason Barker
Jason Barker Jason Barker is the writer, director and co-producer of the 2011 documentary Marx Reloaded. He is Professor of English at Kyung Hee Universi...
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