Books Obama has been read­ing

Pretoria News Weekend - - NEWS -

just af­ter World War II. Obama notes that it is “a med­i­ta­tion on the lin­ger­ing ef­fects of war on fam­ily”. It tells the story of two Bri­tish chil­dren left by their par­ents in the care of a stranger. Re­view­ing the novel for The Post, Anna Mun­dow wrote, “All is il­lu­mi­nated, at first dimly then starkly, but al­ways bril­liantly.” 3. A House for Mr Biswas,

Naipaul (Vin­tage). by VS

Obama wrote, “With the re­cent pass­ing of VS Naipaul, I reread… the No­bel Prize win­ner’s first great novel about grow­ing up in Trinidad and the chal­lenge of post-colo­nial iden­tity.” This is a par­tic­u­larly timely choice – the writer died on Au­gust 11 – and it also demon­strates the former pres­i­dent’s will­ing­ness to ig­nore the winds of po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness. Later in life, Naipaul was ac­cused of Is­lam­o­pho­bia and misog­yny, but that needn’t blot out the artistry of his great­est books.

4. Ta­yari Jones (Al­go­nquin).

An Amer­i­can Mar­riage,

by

Obama isn’t the only big name to give this novel a boost this year. Oprah Win­frey chose it for her book club in Fe­bru­ary, and she plans to make a movie adap­ta­tion. The story is a per­fect blend of thought­ful drama and so­cial is­sues. When a hus­band is sent to prison for a sex­ual as­sault he didn’t com­mit, he must deal with the hor­rors of in­car­cer­a­tion, and his wife must deal with the chal­lenges of liv­ing with­out him. Obama de­scribed it as “a mov­ing por­trayal of the ef­fects of a wrong­ful con­vic­tion on a young African-Amer­i­can cou­ple”. 5. Fact­ful­ness,

(Flat­iron). by Hans Rosling

The sub­ti­tle of this non-fic­tion book is Ten Rea­sons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Bet­ter Than You Think,” which is a mes­sage we all could use now. Obama calls Rosling, a Swedish physi­cian, “an out­stand­ing in­ter­na­tional public health ex­pert”, and notes that Fact­ful­ness is “a hope­ful book about the po­ten­tial for hu­man progress when we work off facts rather than our in­her­ent bi­ases”. Given the huge cloud of dis­tor­tion en­velop­ing Amer­ica, this is just what the doc­tor or­dered. – The Wash­ing­ton Post

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