In fact it doesn’t need the ellipsis. He’s arguably the most powerful and influential human being in the world – and he’s also a Reader! Barack Obama has listed Shakespeare as one of his favourite writers, along with Nietzsche, Ernest Hemingway and Toni Morrison, explaining:
Shakespeare’s tragedies, whether it’s Hamlet or Lear… there’s so much in each of those tragedies. You can read them once a year and each year, there’s something new, there’s something you didn’t notice. There is some insight into the human dilemma. It’s powerful stuff.
So what’s he currently reading? Well, in an interview on Radio 4’s Today programme, ahead of a trip to the Middle East to begin peace talks, Obama said he’d almost finished Netherland by Joseph O’Neill and called it an “excellent novel”.
Published in 2008, Netherland follows the story of a Dutchman living in New York after the September 11th attacks, and was awarded the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. The critic James Wood has described it as “one of the most remarkable postcolonial books” he has ever read and “a postcolonial rewriting of The Great Gatsby“.
So if you’re looking for something to while away these long summer evenings we’re having – it comes highly approved! You can buy Netherland by Joseph O’Neill from The Reader Organisation’s online bookshop and Amazon will donate a percentage of your purchase to us. A guilt-free buy, in other words!
And suddenly I’m wondering what would happen if world leaders put aside a little time during meetings and summits to read and enjoy a great piece of literature together? A Get Into Reading group in the White House… I’m almost serious. Well, why not?