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The election is looming! What can I read to get me in the mood for voting?
In the run-up to an election, it’s a little sad to note that the representation of politics and politicians in fiction is very rarely flattering, or even benign.
· Perhaps the ultimate dystopian vision of politicians and their bureaucrats, governments and their ministries, is George Orwell’s 1984.
· Inverting Franz Kafka’s classic story of metamorphosis is Ian McEwan’s The Cockroach, in which an insect wakes up in the body of the British Prime Minister.
· Curtis Sittenfeld imagines the life of America’s First Lady in American Wife, and explores the alternative life which might have been Hillary Clinton’s in Rodham, in which she dedicates herself to public life and politics rather than marrying Bill.
· The privileged and hypocritical household of British Conservative MP Gerald Fedden is the setting for Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty, which explores whether it’s possible for a gay man to be apolitical in a homophobic society.
· Hillary Mantel’s award-winning Wolf Hall trilogy about Thomas Cromwell’s political rise and fall under the reign of Henry VIII wasn’t her first political history; A Place of Greater Safety traces the lives of the key political figures of the French Revolution.
· A series of linked novels and stories written by Charlotte Grimshaw follow the lives of a group of Aucklanders, including a National Party Prime Minister, the first of which is the short story collection Opportunity.
· A nationalistic, right-wing political conspiracy lies behind some very strange events in Rajorshi Chakraborti’s novel Shakti, in which three young Indian women find themselves endowed with magical powers.
· A real-life Newfoundland politician is the subject of Wayne Johnston’s novel The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, the leader who brought the province into Canadian federation in 1949.
· Featuring characters based on Pakistani political and military figures, Salman Rushdie’s third novel, Shame, follows the postcolonial consequences of the artificial creation of Pakistan.
· Primary Colours is the novel about a southern Governor running for the American presidency, based closely on Bill Clinton, first published anonymously before its author was revealed as columnist Joe Klein.