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Faced with Current Reality, How Can Fiction Compete? | The Guardian

Author Lionel Shriver is known for creating characters who are “hard to love.” This is her take on the President-Elect’s potential as a fictional character in a novel: “Donald Trump wouldn’t work on paper.”

Faced with Current Reality, How Can Fiction Compete? (Link)

“Donald Trump wouldn’t work on paper. Obnoxious, crass, boastful and vulgar, with garish tastes and a Stepford wife, as a fictional character he’d seem too crudely drawn. Even in a trashy airport thriller, readers wouldn’t buy such a boor as president. Reviewers would slam the author for artless overkill. (I take that back. This book wouldn’t get reviewed at all.) As a notional construct, Trump wouldn’t fly in satire, either. Parody-proof, he’s too broad to be funny… I can’t be alone among fiction writers in regarding the world, so much weirder than anything we could make up, as beating us at our own game…” ~ Lionel Shriver


About The Author

JoAnn Chateau

JoAnn Chateau likes progressive politics and loves the canines. She writes fiction about an alpha Bichon named Chester, and his friends--with a dash of humor and a dab of poli-sci. JoAnn worked professionally in the Psychology and Information Science fields. Retired now, she enjoys the creative life.


  1. michelinewalker

    Fiction cannot compete. We are seeing the worst. Interestingly, since his farewell speech, people have focused on President Obama. Are they trying to cope? There has been a terrible mistake.

    • JoAnn Chateau

      Good observation. All the focus on Obama’s farewell must be a coping mechanism.

  2. usfman

    If I were to write a fiction novel about Trump, it would center around a person who suffers from a serious mental illness. and push it as required reading for prospective health professionals.

    • JoAnn Chateau

      That would be a kind of like a case study. Good stuff!

  3. Carol A. Hand

    I have to admit, it’s hard for me to know anything about who he really is given the snippets media reveal to paint him as a bellicose, bilious, bombastic, billionaire buffoon. Perhaps he really is, but given media’s track record for truth-telling, I’m not willing to take them at their word. Still, I don’t think I’d read a book about him. I made the mistake of reading Obama’s book, “Dreams from my father.” I didn’t have a good feeling about voting for him afterwords.

    • Carol A. Hand

      oops, typo – afterwords was meant to be afterwards, but somehow the typo seems more appropriate…

    • JoAnn Chateau

      That is a very objective response, Carol. With politicians and the media always putting a “spin” on every story, it’s hard to know anything.

  4. philosophyfictionblog

    Donald Trump is a real person, so if you can’t include him in a story, then perhaps your ability to create characters is not sufficiently complex. In other words, your characters are crude caricatures.

    • JoAnn Chateau

      You probably have a point. Throughout the entire 2016 Election cycle, I have marveled how “truth is stranger than fiction.” From progressive Dems begging Elizabeth Warren to run, to Lawrence Lessig’s run for Referendum President, to Bernie Sanders’ incredible people-funded campaign, to the undeniable exposure of the DNC rigging the race for Hillary, to the final shocker… President Elect Donald Trump.

      However, I think it could be tempting for a novelist to give a Trump-like character more depth and breadth than the “real Donald Trump” has as an individual. President Elect Donald Trump is fascinating as a phenomenon — like a burst of extreme weather caused by a political climate that is in crisis.

  5. Rosaliene Bacchus

    As a novelist, I don’t agree with Lionel Shriver. Hollywood has portrayed many similar characters like The Donald. We just hate to admit it.

    • JoAnn Chateau

      My critique… he’s a “character” all right – who should stay in the books – simply, sadly unbelievable in real life.

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