This new paperback edition is now available. A new film of Shy Radicals by Black Dog Films is currently on release – visit the film website for details of screenings.
The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear – Lao Tzu
Drawing together communiqués, covert interviews, oral and underground history of introvert struggles (Introfada), here for the first time is a detailed documentation of the political demands of shy people.
Radicalised against the imperial domination of globalised PR projectionism, extrovert poise and loudness, the Shy Radicals and their guerrilla wing the Shy Underground are a vanguard movement intent on trans-rupting consensus extrovert-supremacist politics and assertiveness culture of the twenty first century. The movement aims to establish an independent homeland – Aspergistan, a utopian state for introverted people, run according to Shyria Law and underpinned by Pan-Shyist ideology, protecting the rights of the oppressed quiet and shy people.
Shy Radicals are the Black Panther Party of the introvert class, and this anti-systemic manifesto is a quiet and thoughtful polemic, a satire that uses anti-colonial theory to build a critique of dominant culture and the rising tide of Islamophobia.
Reviews, quotes and acclaim for Shy Radicals:
‘ a beautiful startling book. Subversively funny and very, very smart.’ – A. L. Kennedy
‘A classic in experimental literature.’ – Deborah Pearson
‘Shy Radicals does what the best writing always does: it makes you see the world afresh. And it is funny.’ – Arun Kundnani
‘a work of speculative activism that might actually change they way you think, also way more imaginative and actionable that any of that so-called theory that you read. Sick of extroverts controlling the agenda? Educate yourself about extrovert supremacy.’ – Sam Riviere (Books of the Year 2018 in the White Review)
‘Part manifesto, part history of the shy revolution, part hymn to introversion: Shy Radicals is a beautiful exploration of exploitation, nationalism and power – dynamics as seen from the perspective of the revolutionary introvert. It’s a poem and a manual that helps you take apart the cult of personality and endless expression and their part in enforcing evils of capitalism, colonialism and white supremacy…. Ahsan’s work is genuinely radical, and this book challenges traditional conceptions of art and politics by putting militant quietness at its centre. It’s as deadly serious as it is fun.’ – Henry Bell (Glasgow Review of Books of the Year 2017)
‘Shy Radicals is a must-read, not only for those who can relate to its message, but, to anyone interested in politics and systems of power.’ – Norwich Review of Books
‘This book is as remarkable as it is necessary, as it is something I have never thought about in the way Hamja presents it. He tackles all of the big issues in the contemporary world, and yet presents an alternative way to deal with him.’
– Asim Qureshi, The Bookslamist
‘Check out this incredibly well-written book addressing and solving problems introverts face in today’s extrovert-centric politics by the unstoppable force also responsible for DIY Cultures’ – Saffiyah Khan (anti-fascist icon)
‘[Hamja’s} vision of Aspergistan provides a gentle and revealing analysis of structural violence… It is also intensely relatable. The promise of Aspergistan will appeal to the bullied, the socially awkward, the introverted, the marginalised and the medicalised, and to all self-identifying Shy and autistic spectrum people. It imagines a world in which we value and give apposite space to ‘alternative,’ quiet and nonconformist ways of being… In our world of celebrity culture and reactionary politics, where the loudest and often the most obnoxious voices shape public debate and hold political office, this book describes a fictional but compelling project of radical societal transformation.’
– Dr. Rachel Seoighe, Ceasefire
‘a deeply-felt work of imagination (as Ahsan notes in the very first sentence: ‘this book is written on the back of a lifetime of resentment’), which both expresses a genuine anguish and develops a rich symbolic framework within which that anguish can be borne… Shy Radicals is attuned to the voice of the invisible self, and challenges the conventions of extrovert self-advertisement precisely in order that this self might be recognised and heard. I read it with a feeling of recognition, of surprised identification – with resentment, and also a kind of furious joy.’ – Dominic Fox, Review 31
‘Shy Radicals is funny and bitter and idealist. But it also contains a lot of material that is shocking and serious; highlighting in particular the levels of suicide among young men. Hamja describes the book as based on ‘a life-time of resentment’; this is palpable throughout the pages and will strike a chord with many readers. Anyone who hates nights out or false bonhomie, or has ever been excluded from a popular group and felt the dual emotion of despising that group and everything it stands for, while at the same time wanting to belong somewhere, will easily identify with the sentiments behind Shy Radicals.’ – Nicki Jameson, Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism
‘Ahsan’s work is a sublime work of cultural criticism… Every chapter, every page, every sentence resonated with me.’ – Partly Robot autism blog.
‘Best book in an age! Can I buy my one way ticket to Aspergistan?’ – Rowena Harris, artist
Shy Radicals author Hamja Ahsan is an artist, curator and activist based in London. He is the Free Talha Ahsan campaign organiser. He has presented art projects at Tate Modern, Gwangju Biennale, Shaanakht festival Pakistan and Shlipa Academy, Bangladesh. He co-founded DIY Cultures Festival in 2013.
Common Objectives is a series of quick-fire, rapid-response projects from artist/writer collectives or individual art practices engaged with emerging political struggles, rejecting the idea of culture as a playground for the elite, engaging in the potent mix of free discourse, solidarity and the production of new desires and prepared to break open old worlds, either in the virtual space of communication and networks, or in the concrete world of action, discourse and distribution. Other projects in the series include: After The Night by Everyone Agrees; Bad Feelings by Arts Against Cuts; Counsel of Spent by Inventory; Even the Dead Rise Up by Francis McKee; Move…ment, a new issue of the journal …ment, edited by Federica Bueti; The Night by Michèle Bernstein, translated by Clodagh Kinsella and edited by Everyone Agrees; and Pre-enactments by Victoria Halford and Steve Beard.