I Want Room Service, Dammit!

by Gary Phillips

I suspect the reason strongmen and dictators don’t ask mystery writers to their parties is they’re worried these writers might not only read something from one of their books bumming out the gathered with passages about desperate characters taking desperate measures – and thus a not-so-subtle rallying cry to the downtrodden in their land – but one of these writers might make some extemporaneous comment about those hungry kids with their noses pressed to the windows of the castle.

Because generally speaking, writers of various political persuasion and stripes, Ayn Rand being an exception, tend to stand up for the put upon, and have a sense of fair play and justice that comes through in their work.  Some of them are compelled by what they write to other walks of life.  Clare Booth Luce wrote the insightful The Woman among other Broadway plays and became a congresswoman, and another playwright and novel writer, Václav Havel, was part of the dissident movement to free his country from the Soviet Bloc and became the last president of Czechoslovakia.  While as a teenager Chris Abani was jailed and tortured in his native Nigeria for publishing a near future novel and went on to edit the anthology Lagos Noir in this country. Continue reading “I Want Room Service, Dammit!”

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