Jonathan Franzen—author of The Corrections, Freedom, and Purity—says that talking to Trump supporters makes him “uncomfortable” and that they’re intimidated by the way he speaks.

The Slate interviewer asked him about a piece George Saunders wrote about Trump supporters, and if he would like to write something similar. This was his response:

Saunders was better at striking up a conversation with a Trump supporter than I would be. I can do it, but it makes me uncomfortable. He can do it with a kind of sincerity that I don’t think I would have. I don’t know. I work well overseas because people don’t have preconceptions of what kind of person I am based on my glasses or my clothes.”

The interview then asked, “What do you think your glasses and clothes make people think about you?”

He responded, “Just the way I speak. It’s a matter of level of diction, maybe. Just the way the vowels and the consonants get articulated and enunciated.” He went on to say, “It doesn’t intimidate if I am talking through a translator,” but “here it is a little different.”

So, to recap:

  1. It makes Franzen “uncomfortable” to talk to Trump supporters.
  2. He wouldn’t be able to talk to them with “sincerity”—so, presumably, he’d talk to them with condescension and incredulity.
  3. He thinks that his glasses and way of speaking would make them “intimidated.”

And this guy is a “Great American Author”? How well you can really capture the essence of American life when you look at half the population with utter contempt?


Franzen heaped scorn on Trump himself as well, agreeing with the interviewer that Trump might be “mentally ill” and speculating that his election would usher in an era of fascism. He said bravely that if “journalists were being persecuted and freedom of speech was being trampled on,” he would “stand up and get myself shot over it.”

Hmm, that’s funny. I don’t remember Franzen being so bold when Dinesh D’Souza, a vocal critic of Obama, was imprisoned for trumped up campaign finance charges.