Main Writers:

Mario Benedetti (1920-2009)
Uruguayan leftist writer with an impressive repetoire of plays, short stories, and novels, as beautiful and progressive as the brilliant poems for which he was most famous. Born in Paso de los Toros, his family settled in Montevideo in 1924. He worked many different jobs when he was young, and later began to write for different cultural publications, as well as beginning his life of literary creation. After the 1973 rightist coup in Uruguay, he was forced into exile, only returning in 1983. Remained a principled progressive to his death.

Festus Iyayi (1947-)
Nigerian marxist writer, he has written several radical, realist novels about Nigeria. In the 1980's he was active in a progressive academic staff union, eventually becoming its president. Detained several times for his activism during the military dictatorship of Ibrahim Babangida. Always deeply concerned about social justice and having no faith in the ruling class, Iyayi has remained a committed and principled radical.


Mongo Beti (1932-2001)
Cameroonian leftist known for his stringent satires against colonialism and neo-colonialism. From his youth he was an outspoken enemy of colonialism and supporter of Ruben Um Nyobe, the leftist leader who led an armed anti-colonial struggle against the French in Cameroon and was executed in 1958. Spent the better part of his life in France, due to his criticisms of the client regime in Cameroon.

Alex La Guma (1925-1985)
South African communist writer born in District Six, Cape Town. Becoming a member of a labor union in 1945, he was subsequently fired from his job for organizing a strike. Joined the Young Communists League in 1947 and the South African Communist Party in 1948. A defendant in the famous Treason Trial organized by the racist government against anti-apatheid figures, he left South Africa in 1966 and lived the rest of his life in exile.


Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956)
German marxist playwright and poet. Began writing when he was young, he didn't become a Marxist until 1926, eight years after he completed his first full-length play. For the next thirty years his plays and poetry would be permeated with a critical, revolutionary spirit, and a firm understanding and support of class struggle. Forced into exile in 1933 due to the rise of the Nazis to power, Brecht continued to agitate, through his plays, against the Nazi regime, and fascism in general. He remained committed to Marxism till his death.

Ngugi wa Thiong'o (1938-)
Kenyan leftist novelist who grew up during the time of the Mau Mau anti-colonial revolt. In the 70's organized several popular plays, with the actors/actresses being normal people, and the plays with strong messages of anti-imperialist and social justice. Arrested in 1977 for his opposition to the dictatorship of Daniel arap Moi. After his release he left the country and has spent the rest of his life in exile. Once a member of a
of a small, underground Marxist group in Kenya, his is more of a mild leftist in reality.

Otto Rene Castillo (1934-1967)
Guatemalan communist poet. Went into exile in 1954 after a CIA-orchestrated coup, and returned clandestinely in 1966 and joined the guerilla struggle against the regime. In March 1967 he was captured by government forces, taken to their barracks where he was tortured for four days, and then burned alive. His poems are filled with his strong belief in a better future, and his complete opposition to oppression and exploitation. The beauty and consciousness of his poems can't but affect the reader.

Ivan Olbracht (1882-1952)
Czech communist writer who wrote for Social Democratic newspapers in Vienna and Prague in the years before the October revolution. In 1920 he spent six months in the Soviet Union, and on his return to Czechoslovakia joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in 1921, the year of it's formation. He began contributing to The Red Right, the official newspaper of the CPC, and writing many works of fiction as well. Was imprisioned in 1926 and 1928 for his communist positions. During WWII, fearing for his safety (his mother was Jewish), we retreated to the small town of Stříbrec, where he eventually became involved with the Communist resistance.


Roque Dalton (1935-1975)
Commmunist poet from El Salvador, his short life was made up of exiles and imprisonments while he continued to produce poetry of the greatest value, artistically and politically, which showed his commitment to ending injustice forever. Incapable of living a calm life in exile he returned to El Salvador to join a leftist guerilla group and was executed on command of the leadership of the group for his criticism (from the left) of its tactics.

Ousmane Sembene (1923-2007)
Senegalian communist writer and director of progressive films, he was born in Zinguinchor, his father a fisherman. Briefly attended an Islamic school and then a French school, from which he was expelled in 1936 for opposing the disgusting racism of the principal. He left for Dakar in 1938 and worked there for a time as a manual laborer. In 1944 he was drafted into the Senegalese Tirailleurs. Upon his return to Senegal in 1946 he became a member of the construction workers' trade union, and participated in the lively labor movement of the time, influenced by the several month long Dakar-Niger railway strike of 1947.  In the same year, unemployed and desirous of change, he stowed away in a ship bound for France. In France he settled in Marseille, and working as a docker, he soon joined the communist CGT union and subsequently the Communist Party. Returning to Senegal after its 'independence' in 1960, he continued his writing which he had started in France. Then, in 1963, with a desire for his progressive art to reach the greatest possible number of people, he began to make revolutionary films.


Isaac Deutscher (1907-1967)
Polish Marxist who began his revolutionary life in Warsaw as a member of the Polish Communist Party during its days of illegality under Pilsudski's military dictatorship a decade after the October revolution. In the thirties he became on of the most prominent and principled members of a leftist opposition group within the Polish CP which eventually sided with Trotsky. Expelled from the party in 1931 for his participation in a party faction and for "inflating" the threat of german fascism, Deutscher continued his revolutionary work outside the party until 1939, a few months before the outbreak of WWII, when he traveled to Britain as a journalist for a Polish paper. In Britain Deutscher focused his energies on historical writing, and produced his famous three part biography of Trotsky and his biography of Stalin as well as many other important and useful books on the Russian revolution and its aftermath. A committed, serious 'traditional' Marxist to his death, Deutscher remained a fierce critic of Stalinism, and to a lesser extent a critic of orthodox Troskyism.

Richard Rive (1931-1989)
South African writer born in District Six, Cape Town, a working class area that is of prim importance in his novels. A firm enemy of racism and apartheid, his novels reflect this.


Dario Fo (1926-) and Franca Rame (1928-)
Italian Marxist playwrights and actors who started working in the 1950's, initially enjoying a very close relationship to the PCI, then briefly becoming Maoists, to stabilize in the late 1970's as independent marxists.
Their plays are unashamedly political, and deal with very serious subjects, yet all are comedies and often violently satirical. Fo considered himself in line with the jesters of medieval times who used comedy as a weapon to agitate against the rich, and in Fo's opinion political theatre is much more effective when it is delivered with humor. Fo and Rame are open partisans of the working class, and their plays are unique in that they focus most of their attention on normal, working class characters and not bourgeois characters.

Victor Serge (1890-1947)
Russian Marxist writer and novelist, born in Belgium
to two anti-czarists in exile. Began as an anarchist, and soon after the October revolution, in a French concentration camp he came to Marxism, and remained a Marxist till his death. A participant in the Russian revolution from 1919 on, he worked for the Comintern and participated in the famous defense of Petrograd in October 1919. Later a Left Oppositionist, who suffered greatly for his principles, he was allowed to leave his forced exile in Orenberg in 1936 and leave the Soviet Union. Spent the rest of his life in exile in Belgium, France and Mexico. An independent Marxist, Serge was to the left of most of the Bolsheviks, and was a critic of the unnecessary repression of the Kronstadt revolt (on which he had a heated correspondence with Trotsky), as well as the lack of inner-party democracy which began very soon after the October revolution.

Maxim Gorky (1868-1936)
A master at short stories, novels, plays, and articles, his works focused on social questions and he was an open partisan of the downtrodden, and was unique in that he had a background of privitation and poverty, not of wealth and comfort like most writers. Considered to be the founder of Socialist Realism (not the stalinist bastardization), by the turn of the century he was an open supporter of Social Democracy. Giving financial and other support to the Russian Social Democratic Party, he was considered the literateur of the Russian marxists, although his relations with the Bolsheviks were far from stable. Arrested many times for his opposition to Tsarism, he was and will remain one of the greatest socialist novelists ever, with an unequalled abitity in writing about the oppressed: sympathetically, realistically, and with the spirit of revolution.

Giovanni Verga (1840-1922)
Sicilian realist novelist whose writings often deal with social issues. Born in Catania, he spent a large part of his life in northern Italy, and the majority of his writings deal with his native island.


Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937)
Italian marxist theorist and writer.


Jiri Weil (1900-1959)
Czech communist writer, joined the Young Communists in 1921 and began writing cultural articles for The Red Right, the CP newspaper. The first to translate Mayakovsky to Czech, he visited the Soviet Union for the first time in 1922, and later from 1933 to 1935 lived in the Soviet Union as a translator for the Comintern. In the later half of the 1930's he was expelled from the Communist Party for his opposition to stalinism. A Jew, he was called up for the "transports" in 1942 after already living under several years of brutal german occupation. Refusing to go to his death without resistance, he faked a suicide and spent the rest of the war living clandestinely in the apartments and other lodgings his acquaintances could help him find. A radical writer, the spirit of resistance permeates his works.


Jaroslav Hasek (1883-1923)
Czech communist satirist, he started writing satirical sketches in 1901 and continued to focus on satire his whole life. An anarchist before the war he was known for his radicalism and hate for the bourgeois. Drafted to fight in the Austro-Hungarian army during WWI, he was soon "captured" by the Russians. In the Russian camps he joined the Czech Legions (a bourgeois nationalist group) in which he stayed till early 1918. Became committed to the Russian revolution and its ideals and did the work of many during his time as a Political Officer in the Red Army during the Civil War. Returned to Czechoslovakia in late 1920, where he died two years later. The ultimate writer of progressive satire, his works are very humorous and very critical of the bourgeoise and the narrow-minded.





Minor Writers:

Fernando Claudin (1915-1990)
Spanish communist writer who joined the Spanish Communist Party in the early thirties, later participating in the Spanish Revolution. Went into exile with the victory of fascism in Spain in 1939 and was a prominent member of the Spanish CP until 1964 when he was expelled for criticizing its rigid stalinism.

Pepetela (1941-)
Angolan novelist of portugese descent, he fought with the leftist MPLA during its guerilla war against portugese colonialism, and has remained a leftist.

Amado V. Hernandez (1903-1970)
Filipino communist writer and labor leader. Imprisoned in 1950 for six years for his involvement in labor organizing and his ties to the Filipino Communist Party, then engaged in a guerilla struggle with the government. Continued until his death as a defender of the downtrodden and advocate for equality.

William J. Pomeroy (1916-2009) amerikan communist who fought with Filipinos against amerikan neo-colonialism.  A soldier in the army that re-occupied the Phillipines, he decided to stay after the war, where he taught for several years while involved clandestinely with Filipino communists with his Filipina wife Celia Mariano (a former communist guerilla) whom he married in 1948. In 1950 he and Celia joined the Hukbalahap in the forests, were they stayed two years until their capture by government forces in 1952. Released from prison in 1962 the couple spent the rest of their lives in England.

Maina wa Kinyattii
Kenyan Marxist historian considered one of the most important researchers on the Mau Mau (Kenyan national liberation group). Arrested for his opposition to the dictatorship of Daniel arap Moi, he was imprisoned for six and a half years, mostly in solitary confinement. Released in 1988, and unwilling to continue under constant harrasement in Kenya, he sought asylum abroad. In Kenya and abroad was a member of a small, underground Marxist group.

Sipho Sepamla (1932-2007)
South African poet and novelist who lived most of his life in Soweto, on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Was active in the Black Consciousness movement.

Ulrike Meinhof (1934-1976)
German marxist who became a well-known figure on the german left due to her articles in the leftist newspaper konkret. Originally a new-left type, in 1970, like many other leftists in western coutries at the time she turned to "urban guerillism."  Becoming one of the most prominent members of the Red Army Faction she was arrested in 1972 and found "hung" in her cell in 1976.