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Obama and Writers’ Workshop prof Marilynne Robinson talk books, democracy and Christianity


President Obama interviewed one of his favorite authors for the New York Review of Books. -- Official White House photo by Pete Souza
President Obama interviewed one of his favorite authors for the New York Review of Books. — Official White House photo by Pete Souza

The New York Review of Books today released its first installment of a two-part conversation between President Obama and his favorite author, Marilynne Robinson, professor at the Iowa Writers Workshop.

In the talk, Robinson tells the president, “I think that the basis of democracy is the willingness to assume well about other people.”

Obama said he first picked up Robinson’s 2004 book, Gilead, when he was campaigning ahead of the 2008 Iowa caucuses.

“I had the benefit that at the time nobody expected me to win,” he said, adding that some people were scared of his “funny name.”

The second part of their talk will be published in the next NYRB issue.

Listen to an audio version of their conversation on iTunes.


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