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February 29 2020
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A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig

Yes, this is another book about Donald Trump as president, and, yes, it is a fair question as to whether we need to add to the library on this particular subject. The better question is whether we needed all the other books, since A Very Stable Genius is the most reliably detailed narrative yet of just how chaotic and paranoid this White House is. That was more true of other administrations than Trump-haters like to admit, but in those cases the chaos and paranoia were usually by-products of policy making. In Trump’s case, they are the products themselves, creating what then defense secretary Jim Mattis called the “shitshow.”

The Hungry and the Fat by Timur Vermes, translated by Jamie Bulloch

To call this novel a satire is too facile, since so much of the action takes place through the prism of reality TV, which is impossible to satirize. The Hungry and the Fat describes what happens when a German reality-TV star heads to a refugee camp in Africa and ends up leading an army of 150,000 migrants toward her home country via the Middle East. The larger questions about Germany and its history—both with walls and the unwanted—float through the book but never sink it. Is there a market for a sharp, sardonic look at immigration policy? Yes, especially as written by Vermes, whose previous novel, Look Who’s Back, a black comedy about Hitler emerging from a coma, sold more than a million copies and became a Netflix film.

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