President Barack Obama’s secret to surviving eight years in the White House goes no further than his bookshelf. In an interview with the New York Times, POTUS shared that reading allowed him to “slow down and get perspective” and “the ability to get in somebody else’s shoes” throughout his time in office.
It’s the very reason why the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz, which he believes breaks down the “contemporary immigration experience” and captures the “longing for this better place but also feeling displaced,” sits among his list of favorites.
Díaz, who has expressed his disappointment with the Obama administration’s immigration policies in the past, joined the president for lunch last week to discuss where books stand in the political and media landscape of today in the effort to expand public conversation on literature.
“At a time when so much of our politics is trying to manage this clash of cultures brought about by globalization and technology and migration, the role of stories to unify — as opposed to divide, to engage rather than to marginalize — is more important than ever,” President Obama said.
Inspired by his sit-down with the president and fellow authors Dave Eggers, Colson Whitehead, Zadie Smith and Barbara Kingsolver, the Dominican scribe took to Facebook to recount his experience.
“I had lunch with President Obama on Friday, which was surreal and extraordinary to say the least,” he wrote. “I figured after all my criticism of his policies I wouldn’t be high on his list for anything but clearly there’s room at his lunch table for dissent, something we won’t be seeing a lot of with the next president. What surprised me was how completely unbowed President Obama was, how certain he was that the country would find its way. He burned with optimism and faith invincible. If President Obama could still be positive after all the Republican bullsh*t he’d been through–that gave me hope. He was certainly one of the most complete man I’d ever met.”