Chicago Authors on ‘Political’ Books

The inauguration has passed, and we are indeed living in interesting times. CWC asked local authors which books spoke to them politically, and they shared their picks.

Paulette Livers, Author, Cementville, A Novel

Cherry, A Memoir by Mary Karr. Going with Toni Morrison’s notion that “All good art is political,” all three of Karr’s memoirs spoke to me of the years’ long climb out of the struggles of the working poor, including addiction.

And Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. Being from a large, working-class, Kentucky clan myself, and given the incendiary campaign and ascendance of the new U.S. administration, it’s more important to me than ever to learn to understand and work toward respectful dialogue with those whose world views differ vastly from my own. White poor and working class have never been particularly empowered, but the wave of rage and hatred ridden by the new POTUS is beyond alarming.

Theresa Campagna, Multimedia journalist and documentary film maker

Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih and Seeing by José Saramago. The first warns of pushback in the face of oppressing people of color. Oppression typically leads to radicalizing and alienation so I feel it an appropriate read for the Western world, especially in these times. Seeing is also appropriate. It discusses voter apathy and what might happen if a government chooses to punish this, which might also be applicable to now.

Dipika Mukherjee, Author & Sociolinguist

The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. She tackles the growing pains of Indian democracy, the patriarchy’s war against women, caste and religious divides, and the changing fortunes of Indian small business enterprise in one luscious book.

And Submission, by Michel Houellebecq, which has one of the most racist protagonists I’ve ever read, but it’s so gripping. About the Muslim Brotherhood taking over the French government in 2022, it’s very topical. It tackles the objectifying of women in academia and social life, as well as how easy it is to acquiesce to a greater evil in return for personal favors.