paper trail

Authors on Trump; Books that help make sense of the election

Margaret Atwood

Authors weigh in on Trump’s win: Philip Pullman asks, “Is there something wrong with democracy?” George R. R. Martin published a post entitled “President Pussygrabber,” concluding, “Winter is coming. I told you so.” At The Guardian, Marilynne Robinson reflects on what can be learned from this election. “From the very beginning, this election season has been a stress test. It has revealed weaknesses, actual and potential, in the American political system,” she writes. “Voters have now ensured these can no longer be ignored.” Margaret Atwood is bracing for a real-life Handmaid’s Tale.

Who is to blame for Trump’s election? As Alex Pareene writes, pretty much everyone. Glenn Greenwald points to “the institutions and elite factions that have spent years mocking, maligning, and pillaging large portions of the population—all while compiling their own long record of failure and corruption and destruction.” Max Read blames the social media echo chamber. Thomas Frank calls out the “chronic complacency that has been rotting American liberalism for years.” At The Stranger, Ijeoma Oluo writes that it wasn’t third party votes or Clinton’s unlikeability that caused her to lose: “We have elected violent white supremacist patriarchy into office because the vast majority of white American voters chose to elect violent white supremacist patriarchy into office.” Margaret Sullivan highlights the magical thinking that blinded the media to the possibility of electing Trump. “It would be too horrible. So, therefore,” Sullivan writes, “it couldn’t happen.”

Mexico’s Vanguardia newspaper announced Trump’s win with one word: “Upsss!” (Oops!), while BuzzFeed’s Bim Adewunmi asks “What Is America So Afraid Of?” Her answer: “Every damn thing.” At Columbia Journalism Review, Kyle Pope writes that “a new era needs to begin, a period in which reporting takes precedent over opinion, when journalists are willing to seek out and understand people with whom they may have profound personal and philosophical differences.”

The New York Times offers a list of books “for those trying to understand the political, economic, regional and social shifts that drove one of the most stunning political upsets in the nation’s history on Tuesday.” The list includes George Packer’s The Unwinding, Arlie Russell Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land, and Thomas Frank’s Listen, Liberal, among others. It’s a good time to revisit Public Book’s more extensive syllabus on understanding Trump’s rise.

Madeleine Thien’s novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing has won the Giller Prize, Canada’s most renowned book award.

A new book by Joan Didion will be published by Penguin Random House next March. South and West: From a Notebook will be comprised of Didion’s writings from a road trip across the country with her husband.