April 16, 2010

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON:

How Barack Obama invented himself: David Remnick’s new biography of Barack Obama shines a light on a man who only saw his father for 10 days, and whose dazzling success may have hinged on his wife’s willingness to take risks. (Daily Telegraph, 16 Apr 2010)

David Remnick, the editor of the New Yorker, spoke with Ta-Nehisi Coates, a senior editor of the Atlantic Monthly and the son of an ex-Black Panther, as part of the LIVE from the NYPL series of conversations at The New York Public Library. This is an edited transcript of their discussion.

Ta-Nehisi Coates I wanted to start with a particular question for you in terms of identity. The book is obviously very much about Barack Obama’s identity. I wonder how much your own identity influenced how you approached the story, if at all.

David Remnick I got mine at the kitchen table. I got mine in the community that I grew up in. It came easy to me, to some degree. Look at how much Barack Obama had to figure out. I mean, he’s born who he is, he can look in the mirror; but it must have been extraordinarily confusing to have this father who was a ghost, a myth, a collection of stories that he barely knew, and by the way, were highly unreliable.


The deeper you look the less there is to find.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 16, 2010 11:16 AM
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