Christopher Hitchens

Letters to a Young Contrarian

"Letters to a Young Contrarian" was written by Christopher Hitchens and published by Basic Books in 2001. The appeal of this novel is that it directly addresses the reader and teaches them about the benefits in having a dissident belief and opinion that is contrary to popular belief. The novel is just under 150 pages and was actually inspired by some of the students that he taught at The New School, which is located in New York. His writings in this novel cover a number of subjects related to what it means to have an independent position and opinion and how to cultivate these opinions in a world where holding controversial and dissident thoughts is oftentimes disagreeable to many.

Throughout the novel, Hitchens writes in detail about everything from debate and how to inject humor into your debates to what he personally went through during his own ideological development. Hitchens helps readers to understand how to identify language used by others as a means of deflecting from the point by taking offense. He described in detail a number of figures throughout history that helped him during his ideological development to someone that was able to hold a contrarian viewpoint and speak about it without worrying about offending someone, which included such famous figures as George Orwell and Rosa Parks. The Critical reception for the novel was generally positive.