Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Here's a list of what the world's top authors have to say on President Barack Obama


With the Oval Office changing hands at the end of this week, swapping the current tenant out for a stub-fingered racist made of Cheeto dust, it’s high time that we took a look at what some of the world’s most respected authors, have to say on Obama’s time as President of the United States:


George Saunders, award-winning journalist for The New Yorker, Harper's, McSweeney's and GQ and author of Lincoln in the Bardo

“The best thing that President Obama did for America was provide a role model, through his calm, dignified, compassionate nature. A leader is always a bloom from the national garden – might be a beautiful bloom or a noxious one. In the case of President Obama, we got very lucky to see the best aspects of our national character so well embodied: patience, humour, resilience, real curiosity, the willingness to listen to all sides.”

Lincoln in the Bardo is released 14th February.


Thomas Morris, author of We Don’t Know What We’re Doing

“All politicians are lizards, but some politicians are less lizard than others.”

We Don’t Know What We’re Doing is out now.


Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

“I doubt we will be seeing the likes of Obama again for a very long time. Obama’s politics were not always great (deportations anyone?) but as an embodiment of black excellence, as a symbol of what our African diasporic community has achieved in the face of tremendous odds, Obama is a singularity whose importance cannot be overstated. And we ain’t ever had a cooler president. Ever. For what that’s worth.”

UPDATE: Junot Diaz was one of several writers invited to lunch with Obama, and wrote this on his Facebook page –

“I had lunch with President Obama on Friday, which was surreal and extraordinary to say the least. 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 bullshit he’d been through – that gave me hope. He was certainly one of the most complete men I’d ever met. With only a few days left before he leaves office I find myself, more than anything, overwhelmed by the knowledge that over the next four years we’re going to be missing Obama something awful.”


David Szalay, author of Man Booker 2016 nominated All That Man Is

“I think Barack Obama is probably one of the most civilised men ever to be President of the United States – perhaps too civilised to be maximally effective in that particular post. Having said that, he’s also a massively more talented politician than either of his possible successors, and would undoubtedly bury Trump in a landslide if he were allowed to run against him. His intelligence, sanity and sangfroid, and his moral authority as the first African-American president, will be sorely missed when he is gone...”

All That Man Is is out now.


Alex Wheatle MBE, award-winning author of Liccle Bit

“What immediately comes to my mind is his grace, poise and dignity, even as his right to be President of the USA was questioned by the ‘birther’ movement – and let’s not forget the part a certain Donald Trump played in that. And he maintained all of the above attributes while the Republicans employed blocking tactics – they shut down the government for days just to ensure Obama would never achieve his core objectives. Their agenda wasn’t for the good of the United States, it was because the very fact of the President being black offended them. Obama rose above all of that with his customary elegance. That’s what impressed me the most about his presidency.”

Lickle Bit is out now


William Finnegan, New Yorker staff writer and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Barbarian Days (named top of Obama’s Summer Reading list 2016)

“Shortly before he got famous, I spent a week with Obama. He was living in Chicago, just a local politician with an eye on the U.S. Senate. I was blown away by his easy-going brilliance. Two difference Chicago Democrats told me – I was reporting an Obama profile, interviewing people who knew him – “You are talking to the first black president.” I didn’t use the quotes. The thought had occurred to me, too, but I didn’t want to jinx him. Watching his star rise in the ensuing months and years was like watching a storybook destiny unfold. His presidency has been frustrating, though. We will never have a cooler president, but he could have accomplished much greater things if dealt a different historical hand. It’s also been extremely disturbing to see the depths of white racism aroused by the mere fact of his presidency. The U.S. feels like a darker place than it did eight years ago...”

Barbarian Days is out now.



The story of the craziest football match I've ever seen

Police and Football League lie to fans to complete game at Leyton Orient

by Dave Fawbert
29 Apr 2017

I judged the International Booker Prize shortlist by their covers

So the saying doesn't go

by Gary Ogden
28 Apr 2017

Women fancy men who read and this is the book that impresses them most

But it doesn't work the other way

by Tom Mendelsohn
28 Apr 2017

The Fyre Festival looks like one of the worst events in human history

People have spent up to $12,000 on an unfolding disaster of an experience that you will not believe

by Tom Mendelsohn
28 Apr 2017

Whatever happened to the FA Cup Final song?

Time for the 80s and 90s staple to make a comeback

by Tom Victor
27 Apr 2017

Ray Winstone on family, feminism and how film stars have changed

His wilder years may be behind him, but a return to his roots has given Ray Winstone a new lease of life

by Jimi Famurewa
27 Apr 2017

These iconic album covers look better as children

We couldn't do a version with the Nevermind baby

by Tom Victor
27 Apr 2017

Sir David Attenborough opens up about health struggles

It is taking the 90-year-old longer to write his scripts

by Tom Victor
27 Apr 2017

Watch Mindhorn for FREE with ShortList Film Club

Check out the new film starring Julian Barratt

27 Apr 2017

M. Night Shyamalan announces sequels to Split and Unbreakable


by Gary Ogden
27 Apr 2017