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How Octavia Butler Anticipated Trump

Octavia Butler

Elie Wiesel, who survived Auschwitz and won the Nobel Peace Prize, died in his Manhattan home this weekend. He was eighty-seven. The author of Night and many other books, Wiesel, writes Joseph Berger in the New York Times obituary, “more than anyone else, seared the memory of the Holocaust on the world’s conscience.”

Paul Kingsnorth’s Beast, the second book in his trilogy of novels about our unfolding ecological disaster, is about to be published in the UK. The first installment, The Wake, was set during the Norman conquest and was written in a dialect partially based on Old English. Beast, which will be published in the US by Graywolf next year, is set in the present (the third novel will be set a thousand years in the future). The New Statesman has published a profile in anticipation of the new book, and shows Kingsnorth as an uncompromising environmentalist, living in rural Ireland with a compost toilet. One of his political positions in particular is raising some eyebrows: He voted for England to leave the EU. “There’s a green radical case to be made for leaving Europe,” Kingsnorth says. “I’m instinctively in favour of small groups of people running their own affairs, close to the ground. Democracy only works when it’s close to the people.”

A new movie based on Eileen Atkins’s play Vita and Virginia will offer a fictionalized account of the friendship and love affair between Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf.

Donald Trump says that he coined “Make America Great Again” about a year ago, but he isn’t the first person to use the slogan. In author Octavia Butler’s Parable of Talents, a dystopic novel published in 1998 (but set in 2032), a xenophobic and authoritarian Texas senator running for president uses the slogan “Help Make America Great Again.”

George Saunders, author of Tenth of December and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, among other books, employs his gifts for presenting absurd spectacles in a new essay detailing his experiences at Trump rallies. Steadfastly empathetic, Saunders goes on to do something most reports about the presumptive Republican candidate don’t do: He tries to understand what led so many people to support Trump. “In the broadest sense, the Trump supporter might be best understood as a guy who wakes up one day in a lively, crowded house full of people, from a dream in which he was the only one living there, and then mistakes the dream for the past: a better time, manageable and orderly, during which privilege and respect came to him naturally, and he had the whole place to himself.”