Lila, the Revolutionary

(8 customer reviews)


Lila, the Revolutionary is a fable for adults about an eight-year-old girl—smart, charming, and tough as can be—who creates a world revolution for social justice. No one ever told her she couldn't end poverty and inequality, so she doesn't doubt that she can Just Do It, starting with the Nike shoe factory where she works. Like the boy in "The Emperor's New Clothes," Lila can see the reality that adults are blind to. And she's not shy about pointing it out. Her story is a call to action: If Lila can do it, so can we. She convinces us that Yes, a better world is possible, and we're the ones to create it.

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8 reviews for Lila, the Revolutionary

  1. Doug B.

    Can one little girl save humanity? If she’s “Lila,” she can.

    The hero of William Hathaway’s fable for adults is an eight-year-old living in an unnamed post-colonial country. She may be fictional, but her world, as the author sketches it, is completely real. It is a graveyard of dreams where survival is precarious and bettering one’s conditions is almost inconceivable. But not for Lila, who refuses to accept the impossibility of change.

    Many readers praising Hathaway’s novella have emphasized its inspirational quality, as the indomitable spirit of a child sparks answering chords in adults who then rise up and win against all odds. And this is certainly a strength of the book.

    But the book is thought-provoking as well as inspiring. As he describes the unfolding of a fantastical revolution, Hathaway captures some political home truths beautifully. For example: how fighting back energizes those in struggle, even through losses; the necessity for leadership; how it happens that women find themselves in the forefront; and much more — even how surplus-value operates!

  2. James P. Miller jr.

    William Hathaway’s books have always intrigued me but Lila, The Revolutionary gave me hope for this world. This fable is a call to arms for all socialists and all others who want a better, more egalitarian world. I spend much of my time agitating through my writings for socialists to come together and defeat the capitalist criminals who own this world. But, the thought that a simple, beautiful little girl could bring about a revolution gives me a little hope for all of us. Read this fable and think what it would be like to live in the world that Lila created.

  3. Nowich Gray

    This engaging tale takes the theme of revolution from a socialist perspective and advances it behind the fresh and unconditioned ethos of a child, eight-year-old Lila. Though Hathaway fleshes out the resistance, the opposing forces of oppression lack lethal force. Violent clashes consist mostly of police and protestors “clubbing” one another as in a street brawl of the 1930s. Contrast the contemporary scenario where any response short of absolute submission meets with gunfire.

    And how easily the guards, managers, and soldiers of the establishment turn against their superiors, when faced with the humane logic of Lila about natural justice. “You’re a worker just like us. The owners are keeping you down too. Join us,” Lila chirps, and they defy orders, walk away from jobs, and join the ranks of rebellion.

    As a result of such conversions, barricades are overrun again and again. Even the mighty USA is brought to account, when Lila arrives from her unspecified foreign country and inspires a socialist election victory in the seat of empire. The trillions taken offshore before the fall? No matter. Real value, says Lila, comes not from such spurious funds, but from honest labor:

    Not such a big problem.… We make new money. It’s the factories that make the money worth something. We own the factories, we own the money. Their money is nothing. We make the money and give it to the people. The world doesn’t use that old money anymore.… That money is dead.

    As in The Hunger Games, the final battle is fought for the presidential palace (in this case, the White House). We hear of the CIA and NATO (offstage) attempting to orchestrate and intervene, and of the manipulation of a national election. The context of Lila is realpolitik, yet in the face of such overwhelming odds we witness the “power of the people” fully engaged in the cause of economic equality.

    Lila, like Mockingjay 2, ends with a pastoral scene of family contentment on a farm. Both stories dispense with the messy aftermath of revolution, leaving such details of restructuring, it seems, to the factory committees to work out, with trust in the intrinsic goodness of human nature when freed from the yoke of capitalism.

    Despite the seeming naiveté of the denouement (Lila is billed as a “fable,” after all), one must take heart in facing the real-world powers that be, since, as we hear more than once in this story, “Where have piecemeal reforms gotten us over the years? Only into a deeper hole, while the owners got richer. Better to demand what’s ours now, than to die the slow death of a slave, in poverty.”

    Far from naïve, Lila’s rejection of conventional wisdom is supported by history, witness to the fall of every empire.

  4. S. Rowan Wolf

    There are things that we know are just nonsense when we stop to think about them. Unfortunately, we rarely take the time to stop and think, and we certainly are not encouraged to think.

    On one level, “Lila” is a critique of capitalism. It is the classic discussion that workers sell their labor and that the excess value becomes “capital,” and that is largely “scooped up” by the capitalist. That is just the way things work. In capitalism, the role of the capitalist is to exploit for profit. The role of non-capitalists is two fold. On one hand, they are labor, and on the other they are “consumers.” In both these roles, they are “exploited,” for the capitalist pays labor as little as possible and then charges consumers “as much as the market will bear.”

    Therein enters Lila, the main protagonist of this story. She is an eight year old child confronted with the harsh realities of the dirtiest side of capitalism. While the story doesn’t specify, one assumes that she and her family are located in India or Bangladesh. In attempts to understand what is happening, she latches onto the concept of “theft.” Her family loses their farm because of the lies of agribusiness, which results in the suicide of her Grandfather – a double “theft” – and they must move to the city. Everyone in the family is then working in the clothing factory. There they are certainly and severally “exploited.” Her brother is eventually “stolen” and sent to prison. And so on.
    Indeed, at a basic level, and taking away the complexities, capitalism is theft. Of course, we are now seeing that it is a theft of global proportions that is likely to kill us and all life on the planet.

    Lila takes her child’s view of theft and catalyzes a social movement.

    This is a story that could be seen as a children’s story, and that would be right. It is also an insightful story for adults. It is refreshing to look through a child’s eyes and ask “why not?” It can be useful to step beyond (or around) the obstacles constructed by our rationalizations of why we do not act. This is especially true of political action where it is so easy to feel that you are the “only” one, or that your voice doesn’t count. The real question becomes “What will move us to action.” Perhaps the realization that we are indeed the victims of serial theft of our time, our labor, and our lives, will be the catalyst.

  5. Deborah

    Living in a world where capitalism is regarded as a near perfect economic system, Lila, an eight year old girl, reminds us that there is an ugly and disturbing side of capitalism that requires protections of the working class from the exploitations of the capitalist class. Lila tells an honest and deeply moving story of a child wanting only the basics of life for herself and her family. She is not trying to fulfill a hidden agenda or manipulate anyone. She simply tells of the injustices suffered by her and her family and how she decided to stand up against them. As a result, Lila becomes a symbol of hope and courage. Lila not only teaches the reader about “the other side of the coin” of capitalism, but also, and more importantly, inspires the belief that even a child can make a positive impact in this world.

  6. Jim C.

    This is such an implausible fable, yet the only thing about it that strains credibility is the fact that the main voice is that of a youngster. Not that a child couldn’t reason in such a way, but rather that those around her could take a young girl seriously. Remarkably, this is also what makes its messages profoundly true to life. In fact, it is the course of every bloody revolution.

  7. Angie

    “Lila” is an excellent book for those who are attempting to visualize a different world than the one we currently occupy. The plot itself is quite simple, but that is indeed the point, as the principles are incredibly easy to understand and access and implement. The world needs more simple revolutionaries like Lila.

  8. Rheaah

    If you want to read stories about children who are seen and not heard, there are other books out there for the choosing; others who want to be inspired, motivated and get a view of what represents most of the 99% in this world economically, get ready to be challenged in your reality through this wonderful, riveting and realistic tapestry of fiction by William T. Hathaway.

    Initially, I was expecting some feel-good, warm-n-fuzzy story about a little girl who speaks profoundly in the midst of adults, only to be received with a gentle pat on the head and a condescending dismissal: ‘That’s nice, sweetie. Now, please, go run and play with the kittens and puppies…” , but I was partly wrong.

    This story is the about Lila, the main character, how she looks at the world with a heart so, so pure, not in a childhood fantasy sense, but the true, raw, honest, can’t-ever-fool-this-kid quality — which we all had at one time before we grew up and the world closed in upon us all.

    Lila is exceedingly brave, encouraging, optimistic, never afraid to speak up and always stood her ground, helping others take back their power, as individuals, families, communities, city and country in a big way with an unrelenting resolve for equality and moves people to action.

    I recommend this book for those who love a reality that children like her so deserve and desire the same for everyone, instead of waiting for the next generation to fix the inherited paradigm.

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Author: William T. Hathaway
ISBN: 9781897455845, 1897455844
ISBN (pdf): 9781897455838 (1897455836),
Page Count: 201
Distributed by: Ingram, Gardners (UK), Podiprint (Spain), Azmut (Poland), Singular Digital (Brazil), Books on Deman (Germany), EE Media (Russia), Korean Studies Information Co., China National Publications Import & Export (Group) Corporation, Rotomail (Italy), Repro Print (India) Lightning Path
Manuscript Status: In Print

William T. Hathaway began his writing career as a newspaper reporter in San Francisco, then joined the Special Forces to write a book about war. A World of Hurt won a Rinehart Foundation Award for its portrayal of the psychological roots of war: the emotional blockage and need for patriarchal approval that draw men to the military. Summer Snow tells of an American warrior in Central Asia who falls in love with a Sufi Muslim and learns from her an alternative to the military mentality. CD-Ring is a young-adult novel about a boy learning the futility of violence and the need for peaceful communication. Radical Peace: People Refusing War presents the true stories of activists who have moved beyond protest into direct action, becoming criminals for peace by defying the government's laws and impeding its capacity to kill. Wellsprings: A Fable of Consciousness is set in 2026 as an old woman and a young man battle the corporations that control the remaining water resources after the earth's ecosystem has broken down under human abuse. Hathaway was a Fulbright professor of creative writing and American studies at universities in Germany, where he currently lives. A selection of his writing is available at