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Authors on Trump

7 November 2016

After the turmoil of the Brexit vote in the UK referendum, 2016 has now delivered another stunning and unexpected political turnaround in the United States. It's impossible at this stage to gauge what the effect on writers and publishing of a Donald Trump presidency will be, but many writers have spoken out to voice their anxieties and hopes.

Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian "The US has elected its most dangerous leader. We all have plenty to fear," The Guardian:

‘People all around the world had watched and waited, through the consecutive horrors of the 2016 election campaign, believing the Trump nightmare would eventually pass. But today the United States - the country that had, from its birth, seen itself as a beacon that would inspire the world, a society that praised itself as "the last best hope of earth", the nation that had seemed to be bending the arc of history towards justice, as Barack Obama so memorably put it on this same morning eight years ago - has stepped into the abyss.

Today the United States stands not as a source of inspiration to the rest of the world but as a source of fear. Instead of hailing its first female president, it seems poised to hand the awesome power of its highest office to a man who revels in his own ignorance, racism and misogyny.'

Marilynne Robinson struck a more conciliatory note in Literary Voices React to President Donald Trump:

‘Devastating as this result is, it should help us to recognise contemporary pressures on the historic order which are the result of economic change, political polarisation and the new media, each of which enhances the effects of the others.

Elections are of unparalleled value as a means of letting the country know how things stand with it. Until the primary results started coming in, the press and the leadership of both parties had no notion that Trump would be a force to be reckoned with. His victory has made it very clear that they need much better means for understanding the public mind, which is, so long as we remain a democracy, the crucial factor in our national life.'

In the Bookseller ‘His Dark Materials trilogy author Philip Pullman has led the outrage, calling Trump a "savage" and questioning the US and UK's shift to the right following the election result and Brexit. "Is there something wrong with democracy? This year we in Britain have voted to leave an organisation that has sustained peace and prosperity during most of our lifetimes, and the people of the USA have elected a moral and intellectual savage as their president," he said. "Is the process failing somehow? Why these terrible, destructive, utterly stupid choices?

"I think the reason is best expressed in poetry: ‘The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.' The truth of Yeats's lines has been brought home to us with a force we could never have imagined before 2016."

He added: "And the remedy must be to find some bloody conviction, and express it with imagination and clarity and force, and do it soon."'