Face The Nation hosted a panel of authors on its New Year’s Day episode, illustrating how the news media is turning to books to talk about the divisions within the country.
Four authors took part in the discussion, Isabel Wilkerson, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (RH/Vintage, 2011; OverDrive Sample), J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample), actor and author Diane Guerrero, who wrote In the Country We Love: My Family Divided (Macmillan/Henry Holt; OverDrive Sample), and Amani Al- Khatahthbeh, Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age (S&S; OverDrive Sample).
Host John Dickerson opened the segment by saying “We’ve gathered four authors who’ve written about the many faces of America, about the differences that divide us, as well as the common experiences that can unite us as one.”
In the personal and heartfelt discussion, Vance, who has been the focus of much of the media’s attempt to explain the anger of many among the white working class and has become a contributing opinion writer for the NYT, says:
“[what] really ties us together is something aspirational about being an American. Right? So whether you’re a black American moving from the rural South or from South America or from an Islamic country, like, whether it’s our parents, our grandparents or even further back, it’s this idea that we want something better for our kids than we have right now … That we’re going to keep getting better. Things are going to keep on improving. And I think, frankly, a lot of the problems we have in our politics are in some ways rooted in different groups thinking that things aren’t continuing to get better. I think that pessimism, that cynicism, is a real problem in our politics and our society more broadly.”
Isabel Wilkerson says “we talk a lot about diversity, but I think we should talk more about commonality. I think we’re very aware of the things that make us different. I don’t think we realize enough what makes us the same and what makes us– our hearts beat the same and the things that we want are so similar.”
The Warmth of Other Suns is rising on Amazon, jumping from #1,226 to #96. Hillbilly Elegy is already at #4. The other two books are farther down (Guerrero at #503 and Al- Khatahthbeh at #787).