Éric Vuillard tells the story of a man whose life casts light on the brutal times in which he lived - a period when, yet again, Europe was in flux. Translated by Mark Polizzotti.

In the 16th century, the peasants and the poor living in towns, who are still being promised that equality will be granted to them in heaven, begin to ask themselves: and why not equality now, here on earth? There follows a furious struggle. Out of this chaos steps Thomas Müntzer, a complex and controversial figure, who encourages the people to ask why a God who apparently loved the poor seemed to be on the side of the rich.

The 2021 International Booker Prize
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Éric Vuillard

Éric Vuillard

About the Author

Éric Vuillard is a writer and filmmaker born in Lyon in 1968 who has written nine award-winning books.
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Mark Polizzotti

Mark Polizzotti

About the Translator

Mark Polizzotti has translated more than 50 books from the French, including works by Gustave Flaubert, André Breton, and Raymond Roussel.
More about Mark Polizzotti

Ken Nwosu reads from The War of the Poor

Actor Ken Nwosu reads an extract from The War of the Poor, written by Eric Vuillard, translated by Mark Polizzotti and shortlisted for the 2021 International Booker Prize.

This clip was created for Edinburgh International Book Festival in partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and directed by Blanche McIntyre.

The War of the Poor

These days, for literature to be more than just a frivolous, parasitical activity, it cannot ignore the flagrant compromises of those in power, nor the ever-increasing inequities, nor the concentration of wealth among a handful of individuals