Some authors make political points in their novels, but an increasing number are also doing so on social media, in interviews, and in other public forums since Donald Trump was “elected” president in 2016. Hard not to given the never-ending cruelty, racism, misogyny, authoritarianism, and anti-intellectualism of Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and most other prominent Republicans. They’ve become existential threats to decency and democracy.
I thought about this after seeing a video on Facebook this week in which Maine-based author Stephen King (above) supports U.S. Senate candidate Sara Gideon in her effort to unseat Susan Collins in Maine. The renowned King says in the campaign ad that Collins is notorious for posturing as a bipartisan “moderate” while almost always backing what the far-right Trump and McConnell want. When Collins does say no, it’s only when it’s safe to do so — as with her being one of two Republican senators to say she’s against McConnell’s ultra-hypocritical push to replace late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during an election year after the monstrous Mitch refused a 2016 court confirmation vote during Democrat Barack Obama’s last full presidential year. Undoubtedly, McConnell gave Collins permission to take her allegedly brave stand because four Republican votes are needed to block a court vote.
Other authors who’ve made their political feelings known, specifically about Trump?
In 2019, Isabel Allende (The House of the Spirits, etc.) labeled Trump “a fool” for denying climate change.
Also that year, Arundhati Roy (The God of Small Things, etc.) called Trump “out of control.”
John Grisham (The Firm, etc.) said of Trump in 2018: “Around our house, my wife and I, we try not to say his name. He knows nothing, he reads nothing, he listens to no one. Nothing he says is clever or smart. Him, the people around him, his crooked friends: each day brings a new embarrassment… I wake up every morning embarrassed to be an American.”
Also in 2018, Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible, etc.) noted with disgust that Trump “is an avowed perpetrator of sexual assault.”
In 2018, too, Alice Walker (The Color Purple, etc.) said Trump “has an inferiority complex” that drives much of his repugnant bluster and boasting.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Americanah, etc.) stated in 2018 that Trump’s election was like “giving a toddler the keys to a very expensive and complicated car.”
Zadie Smith (White Teeth, etc.) had a similar take in 2016 — calling Trump “reminiscent of a six-year-old child” as well as “fact-free.” Then, this year, Zadie’s actor brother Ben said Smith left the U.S. to return to London at least partly because of “racist idiot” Trump.
Also using the “i” word, in 2017, was Neil Gaiman (American Gods, etc.) when he called Trump “an out-of-his-depth idiot.”
Back again to 2016, Walter Mosley (Devil in a Blue Dress, etc.) labeled Trump “a lazy, spoilt guy.”
And Philip Roth, speaking in a New York Times interview five months before his 2018 death, called Trump “a massive fraud” who is “the evil sum of his deficiencies.”
Any other examples you’d like to mention of authors speaking about Trump and other political matters outside their novels since 2016? Is it okay for authors to discuss politics outside their novels? Is it okay for authors to write about politics in their novels?
I’ll be posting my next book piece next Monday (October 5) rather than the usual Sunday (October 4).
My literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.
In addition to this weekly blog, I write the 2003-started, award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com. The latest piece — about another too-big building approved by my town’s spineless Planning Board — is here.