The 2016 Presidential Election was fraught with tension between the candidates and their supporters on both sides of the spectrum. For this reason, writing a book about one of the candidates would receive divisive responses.
Associate Professor of English Sonya Huber discovered that reality when she published her new book, “The Evolution of Hillary Rodham Clinton” this past June. On Oct. 27, Huber had a book signing in The Aloysius P. Kelley Center, where the members of the audience engaged in discussion of the topics of the book and politics in general.
“I thought we had a really excellent conversation and people brought up all kinds of questions about not only the election, but what needs to happen afterwards, so I thought it was really thought-provoking,” said Huber.
Huber spoke on the divisive responses that she received.
“Because I am a woman and wrote a book with [Hillary Clinton’s] face on the cover without lasers coming out of her eyes or fangs for teeth, people assumed that the book must be all praise,” she said. “I’ve never had to deal with these kind of assumptions before.”
Huber described the immediate response that she received on social media after announcing her new book. According to Huber, people lectured her about Clinton’s policies and she had to lose some friendships because of the reaction. However, the response was not as negative as Huber feared it might be.
“I am glad there hasn’t been more negative attention toward me personally, given that the campaign season was so negative,” Huber said. “I was honestly pleasantly surprised that supporters of Bernie Sanders who’ve read the book said that it helped them to transition from his campaign to supporting or at least understanding Hillary as well as the cultural conversation about her.”
According to Huber, approximately 40 people turned up in The Kelley Center Presentation Room for the signing.
Huber opened by talking about what made her want to write a book about Clinton.
“I was approached by an author who had already written for the London-based publisher, Squint Books, and they thought I would work for their chosen topic of Hillary Clinton because I have written on many current, political topics,” said Huber. “I tend to choose writing topics by thinking about the big questions that I can’t get out of my mind and that I need to dive into. I rarely find a neat solution, but I learn a lot, which is why I love writing.”
However, she made it clear that her book was not all criticism or praise of Clinton. According to Huber, she provided a balanced judgement of Clinton’s character. She initially wrote the book as an overview of Clinton for residents of the United Kingdom. However, she commented that the feedback she received was helpful for some Americans to read as well.
“We hear so much about how Hillary is either the best or the worst, and I don’t take either of these simplified perspectives,” said Huber. “I think both views are cartoon versions of how government and politics work … I talk about her mistakes, what I worry about for her presidency and also what I think she’s done well on in the past, on a whole roster of issues.”
“It’s a good read,” commented Quiñones. “It’s not a hit piece and it’s not completely supportive. It very much objectively talks about Hillary’s life and things that need to be called into question and things that need to be highlighted.”
Senior Theresa De Palma, who has taken two creative writing nonfiction courses with Huber, commented on her professor’s writing.
“[Huber’s] style in class has always stayed away from any sort of political views. In fact, being in her class simply took my mind off of any sort of politics and strictly enclosed me in a self-reflecting world,” continued De Palma.
“As she continued to speak, I thought to myself, ‘I honestly didn’t think that I could be any more inspired by this woman.’ She is such a well-rounded writer and person that everyone should look up to,” De Palma added.