Germinal is one of the most striking novels in the French tradition. Widely regarded as Zola's masterpiece, the novel describes the working conditions of French coalminers in the 1860s in harsh and realistic terms. It is visceral, graphic, and unrelenting. Its strong socialist principles and vivid accounts of the miners' strikes meant that the novel became a key symbol in the workers' fight against oppression, with chants of "Germinal! Germinal!" resonating high above the author's funeral.
A father and three of his seven children work brutal hours in a mine, facing hazards such as landslides, fire, and poisoned air, to scrape together enough money for food. When their lodger, Étienne, shares ideas about a workers' revolt, the family gradually embraces his plans. Soon the settlement is aflame with resolve to strike for better wages and working conditions. Savage and horrifying events ensue as miners clash with management and with each other.
It was the most radical human-breeding experiment in American history, and no one knew how it turned out. The Repository for Germinal Choice, nicknamed the Nobel Prize sperm bank, opened to notorious fanfare in 1980, and for two decades, women flocked to it from all over the country to choose a sperm donor from its roster of Nobel-laureate scientists, mathematical prodigies, successful businessmen, and star athletes.
"Interesting stories, but not what I expected."