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Diana Block was a founding member of San Francisco Women Against Rape and the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee in the 1970’s. She spent thirteen years living underground with a political collective committed to supporting the Puerto Rican independence and Black liberation movements.   While underground, she had two children, worked in the AIDS movement,  and published poetry under a pseudonym.  Since returning voluntarily from clandestinity in 1994, Diana has committed herself to anti-prison work, becoming a founding member of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners ( and the Jericho Movement for Political prisoners. She is a member of the editorial collective of The Fire Inside newsletter which has been giving voice to women and transgender prisoners since 1996. Her articles have been published in Counterpunch and MR Zine. Diana’s memoir Arm the Spirit-A Woman’s Journey Underground and Back, offered unique insights into her personal and political history.  Understanding that fictional narratives can open up windows on the truth beyond the limits of memoir and non-fiction, Diana has written Clandestine Occupations, a novel that explores history imaginatively and speculates about the dimensions of radical possibility in the future.  Diana lives in San Francisco with her life partner, former political prisoner Claude Marks.

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Clandestine Occupations: An Imaginary History
Author: Diana Block
Publisher: PM Press/Spectacular Fiction
ISBN: 978-1-62963-121-9
Published: 10/2015
Format: Paperback
Size: 8x5
Page count: 256
Subjects: Fiction

In 1984 radical activist Luba Gold goes underground to support the Puerto Rican independence movement.  When Luba’s collective is targeted by an FBI sting, she escapes with her baby but leaves behind a sensitive envelope that is being safeguarded by a friend. When the FBI come looking for Luba, the friend must decide whether to cooperate in the search for the woman she loves.  

Told in the voices of five different women who cross paths with Luba over four decades, Clandestine Occupations explores the difficult decisions that each woman confronts about the limits of legality, the risks of incarceration, and the conflicting demands of politics and love.  A revolutionary feminist epic with psychological depth, the book extends from the solidarity movements of the 1980’s to the awakenings of Occupy and then moves beyond to a beautifully imagined insurgency of the future.

Based on lived experience, Diana Block’s bold new novel offers a thought-provoking reflection on the risks and sacrifices of political commitment, the damaging reverberations of disaffection and betrayal, and the exhilarating possibilities of love through struggle.


"At the crossroad of the personal and the political, Diana Block’s new book is the first major novel taking us to the world of the women who in the ’60 and ‘70s opted for clandestine struggle.
Powerfully written, it is an uncompromising denunciation of social and institutional injustice and an honest confrontation with the dilemmas we must face as we encounter it in our daily life. It is also a story of female and intergenerational solidarity bringing us voices we cannot ignore. Read this book."
—Silvia Federici, author of Caliban and the Witch

"Diana Block has accomplished what a number of writers have tried unsuccessfully--capturing the profound revolutionary spirit of the political movements that emerged from the 1960s. Clandestine Occupations is also the first work of fiction set in that era to center women, not just one strong female character. It is a work filled with suspense, intrigue, ideas, and love. Nothing else has come near illustrating the slogan of the time, “the personal is political." 
—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous People’s History of the United States

Clandestine Occupations is a triumph of passion and force. A number of memoirs and other nonfiction works by revolutionaries from the 1970s and ‘80s, including one by Block herself, have given us partial pictures of what a committed life, sometimes lived underground, was like. But there are times when only fiction can really take us there. A marvelous novel that moves beyond all preconceived categories.”
—Margaret Randall, author of Che on My Mind

"Diana Block’s novel Clandestine Occupations is an engrossing, deeply moving, page-turning feminist thriller: a walk on the noir side of society’s leftist edges of hideouts, prisons, pseudonyms, betrayals and loyalties. You cannot stand outside this novel. It demands that readers reflect on our own lives and the intimate changes we made, and are making to the swiftly moving global flow of history."
—Nina Serrano, PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for excellence in literature 2014 

“Through this fascinating novel, Diana Block brings to life stories about radical history that will educate and engage today’s activists. Her portrayal of a woman in solitary confinement rings true to experience, offering a raw view of the struggle for resilience under daunting circumstances. Through flights of imagination, the novel gives us hope for political transformations in the future.”
—Sarah Shourd, author of A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran

“Diana Block once again challenges our understanding of the ethical essence of revolution. Beyond political theory and practice, the moral dilemmas and turmoils are constant and consistent. Where does your loyalty lie, how does your dedication confront obstacles? These are the questions found in these pages as Diana searches for a just balance in human relationships and politics. Clandestine Occupations captures and occupies the heart and spirit, teaching us what it means to be genuine and sincere in revolutionary life and love.”
—Jalil Muntaqim, political prisoner, author We Are Our Own Liberators: Selected Prison Writings

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What Others Are Saying...



clandestineDiana Block discusses Clandestine Occupations: An Imaginary History with Chris Burnett
By Chris Burnett
KPFK's Indymedia On Air

Clandestine Occupations is a book not just about those engaged in revolutionary struggle, but it’s about the people around those revolutionaries that are effected by the struggle, many of which are only tangentially related, some that choose to become more committed.

It’s a story of what it’s like for those that support, and even betray, those involved in a struggle, and how they make decisions, or how they may chose to find an inner strength they never knew they had, or highlight a weakness that might betray those in the middle of that struggle.

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clandestineMore Fictional Days of Rage
By Jonah Raskin
Huffington Post
December 9th, 2015

"Clandestine Occupations" burns with intensity and with few lulls in the action. The characters ponder critical issues and offer valuable political insights. One character observes that "prison visits cook emotions until they threaten to boil over in a sizzling, uncontrollable mess."

Another character wonders about "the complicated questions of language - Occupy, We Are the 99%" and explains that words seem to "gloss over the contradictions between occupiers and occupied." Block's language can be vivid as when she writes about "melancholy harmonies turned into discordant dirges about government plots and planetary destruction" and about "grains of terrible truth sprinkled amid paranoid delusions."

Any single character would have been enough for a hefty novel. Any one historical moment from the 1970s to the 2010s would have provided enough fodder for an explosive narrative.

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clandestinePuerto Rican Independence Activist Diana Block Discusses Her New Novel: A Review
By Victoria Law
Bitch Magazine
November 4th, 2015

"At the same time, Block creates memorable minor characters whose experiences illustrate the realities facing people who have loved ones in prison. Through Coretta, an older Black woman whose daughter is in prison, readers see firsthand the arbitrary rules and regulations that punish not only those held inside, but also their family members. Coretta recounts bringing her baby grandson to visit his mother at Easter. She waits 45 minutes to be processed only to be turned away because the baby is wearing beige, the same color as the prison jumpsuits. She then has to drive to Target and buy another outfit before they are allowed to visit that day. In another scene, Candelaria, a hospital clerk, tells her co-worker about her sister in prison, who has been taunted by the guards. In just two pages, Candalaria's story explains how California's sentencing works (if you're given seven years-to-life, you may very well end up serving a life sentence) as well as the horrific abuses inside prison.

But Clandestine Occupations never gets preachy. Every encounter with or explanation of systemic injustice moves the story forward until we get to the year 2020. I won't give it away, but suffice to say that if Block wanted to write dystopia next, she could give George Orwell a run for his money. "

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clandestineClandestine Occupations: A Review
By Ron Jacobs
October 23rd, 2015

"Working with a subversively restrained prose that evokes powerful emotions, Diana Block tells a heartrending and intellectually appealing story of a group of modern women interconnected through politics, family and love.  Multi-generational, the women’s stories weave in and out of a loom created by forces often beyond their control. Intellectually and spiritually informed by a woman’s perspective, Clandestine Occupations is reminiscent of the best work of writers like Doris Lessing and Marge Piercy—who have also tread the path of fictionalizing revolutionary struggle in the belly of the modern Empire. By the same token, it is more than women’s literature. Indeed, it is revolutionary literature of a very high order."

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clandestineReverberations of Underground Activism: Clandestine Occupations reviewed on Truthout
By Dan Berger
October 14th, 2015

"Ultimately, Clandestine Occupations is a poignant reminder of the reverberations of radical activism. In a revealing passage, Luba writes of the collective responsibility all must bear in social movements. "We had been so full of our righteous rage, our correct political convictions, our determination to push ourselves and others to the limits of militancy that we excluded those who wanted a different role," she writes. "We failed to see how our harshness, our superior standards, our cliquishness could drive people into the arms of our enemies." Luba's self-reflection comes in 2020, after decades of organizing and intense political commitment. It is a warning borne of experience, from the future as much as the past, to build movements that are uncompromising in their vision but capacious in their empathy.

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