Author: Émile Zola
Year Published: 1885
Description: This classic of French literature follows Étienne Lantier, a young newcomer to a mining town in northern France, as he leads a coal miner's strike against pay cuts. The title refers to the belief in the "germination" of a better society, one without the poverty and extreme working conditions of miners in 1860s France portrayed in the novel. As a new consciousness was dawning and the seeds of the 20th century labor movement began to sprout around the globe, Zola's book was translated into English and dozens of other languages, helping to cultivate collective movements aimed at bringing attention to the working conditions of an industrial age. It has since become a touchstone for working class activists and reformers.
'That evening, in the Advantage, the decision was taken to strike. Rasseneur had ceased to oppose it, and Souvarine accepted it as a first step. Étienne summed the matter up; if it was a strike the Company wanted, then a strike they could have.'