by Nanni Balestrini, Translated by Matt Holden
Around him, students are holding secret meetings and union workers begin halting work on the assembly lines, crippling the Mirafiori factory with months of continuous strikes. Before long, barricades line the roads, tear gas wafts into private homes, and the slogan “We Want Everything” is ringing through the streets.
Wrought in spare and measured prose, Balestrini’s novel depicts an explosive uprising. Introduced by Rachel Kushner, the author of the best-selling The Flamethrowers, We Want Everything is the incendiary fictional account of events that led to a decade of revolt.
“We would do well to study how it was that Balestrini made politics and fiction and art, all in once place...one of the most compelling pieces of literature of the entire second half of the twentieth century.” – Rachel Kushner, New Yorker
“A fine example of a literary use of expressions that were then burgeoning in factories and mass meetings, caught between student unrest and worker fury.” – Umberto Eco, author of The Name of the Rose
About the Author:
Nanni Balestrini was born in Milan in 1935 and was a member of the influential avant-garde Gruppo 63, along with Umberto Eco and Eduardo Sanguineti. He is the author of numerous volumes of poetry, including Blackout and Ipocalisse, and novels such as Tristano, Vogliamo Tutto, and La Violenza Illustrata.
During the notorious mass arrests of writers and activists associated with Autonomy, which began in 1979, Balestrini was charged with membership of an armed organization and with subversive association. He went underground to avoid arrest and fled to France. As in so many other cases, no evidence was provided and he was acquitted of all the charges.
He died in Rome in 2019.