will go down in history as a great American tragedy. Among other things, because he
filled many people with hatred
who thought they would find in him the allied champion against the frustrations of a difficult life. In addition, he brought out the worst instincts : exactly the same as the ones I lived in as a child in Mississippi. In the South where I grew up, even in the 60's, racism and segregation was the norm. Even with lynchings of blacks. The last was in 195
9, when I was four years old.
Getting out of that climate, entering the era of civil rights and multi-ethnic society was a painstaking journey, but America has made great strides along this path.
So much so that I thought that this universe and those horrible instincts were buried forever.
But no, Trump brought them back to life. "John Grisham (Jonesboro, Ark., February 8, 1955), a name that has become synonymous with a judicial thriller, is one of America's most successful writers: 36 great novels, almost
400 million copies sold
and a dozen books that have been made into movies or television series.
The characters he has created have been played by great Hollywood stars, from Tom Cruise to Julia Roberts, from Matthew McConaughey to Matt Damon, to George Clooney, Sandra Bullock and Dustin Hoffman. Today he is a patrician, an elegant and very rich gentleman. Southerner who lives in Virginia and travels in his private jet, but remains heavily involved in politics with the Democratic Party and does not forget his modest origins:
his childhood on a cotton plantation
in Arkansas and then a career start as a lawyer and also as a politician in Mississippi, deep in the south of his country. It was there that he wrote his first novel, with a protagonist, Jack Brigance, who, like him, was a Poor lawsuit attorney, used to defending the most humble people who couldn't pay their bills, always looking for the big court case to take to court.
Time to kill
it was a failure.
Later, when his second novel,
a cinematic success
Worldwide, the first work also exploded in bookstores and on screens. Jack Brigance, then played by McConaughey, returns for the third time in Grisham's novels with
The time of mercy
, which will be published soon in Spain (his novel of 2019 has just been published here
In this video conference interview, Grisham talks about himself as a writer, but also about
his political passions
and the evolution of his beloved South.
In the end, his South stood up to Trump
It's depressing to see how Trump has pushed him back into his darkest past.
How you have convinced so many people that being a racist is not at odds with being a decent person.
And it's heartbreaking not being able to discuss all this with others.
Until recently you could argue with anyone, you could argue and convince or be convinced.
But now that is no longer possible.
You can no longer talk about politics and Trump, not even among friends: it is war.
You don't write about politics.
Their stories are stories of action: crime investigations and trials.
But at the center of the narrative there is almost always a great social or economic theme: racism, the homeless or the abuses of the pharmaceutical, tobacco or coal industries.
It is true that I never write in political terms: people want entertainment, stories, not sermons.
I try to make my readers reflect on social issues, immersing my characters in certain realities.
This time there is no common thread, but I return to address the serious distortions of American criminal justice, a system in dire need of reform.
I go into that subject from a particular angle: how to treat a 16-year-old boy who commits murder.
He is a minor, he acted impulsively, thinking that he was protecting or avenging his mother but the damage is equal to what a forty-something could cause.
I explore all the implications, the different points of view and I am not sure I have reached a conclusion that will convince myself in the first place.
I may have to write another book ...
There are thousands of innocent people in jail or even on death row.
Its main social commitment is situated on this same front ...
I have been in the Innocence Project for more than 12 years.
We study controversial cases, we try to identify judicial errors and even manage to obtain the release of those who are unjustly detained, which is not easy in the American system.
Only thanks to DNA tests we have been able to exonerate 370 prisoners, many of whom had been sentenced to death.
People who have already served 15 or 20 years in prison for the crimes of others: heartbreaking and heartbreaking stories.
Why did you get into politics?
And why did he stop direct political engagement after a single term?
Because he was disappointed, but also because he wasn't convinced enough.
It was the 1980s and I was an idealistic, penniless lawyer, like Jack Brigance.
I ran for office, was elected, and entered the Mississippi Legislature as a part-time commitment.
Then I realized that I was taking up much more time than planned, that we were passing cumbersome laws, that they did not change the world as I expected, and also that the electorate that elected me was asking me for favors for having voted for me.
I was not prepared for these things.
I dropped everything.
Meanwhile, my writing career was beginning.
But the passion for politics has remained.
He is a friend of the Clintons and helped Hillary with her campaigns.
Instead, he never spared criticism of Barack Obama.
I've never been an Obama fan, right.
I liked him as a person, but it seemed to me that he had inadequate preparation: senator for 15 minutes and then fired towards the White House.
There, he did well for the first two years, but then he made serious mistakes.
For example, focusing too much on healthcare and neglecting the economy.
Therefore, he lost Congress immediately.
It is also true that I was close to Hillary.
She was much more qualified and without Obama she would have made it to the White House.
I have criticized Barack a lot, but today I am revaluing him.
He seems like a hero to me.
I mean, compared to Trump, even George Bush, a horrible president, becomes a hero.
And that also applies to Biden, of whom I am a fan today, and it is a long time for me to start his term.
His literary output is huge, almost two books a year, often with detailed descriptions.
How is it organized?
There are authors who have teams of assistants.
Sometimes even writing becomes a collective work.
I do it all alone, I don't want others to put their hands in my work.
Every year I start a novel on January 1st.
I write five hours a day, five days a week.
A thousand words, two thousand on a good day.
I always finish at six months.
Then comes six weeks of heavy editing.
In August everything is ready: the novel goes to the bookstores at the end of October, in time to reach the Christmas market.
And I, in the meantime, have time to write a shorter story.
I have no staff, no research team, not even a secretary.
When I need help, I lean on the team of my editor, Doubleday - we've worked together for 25 years and they always know how to fix my problems.
Sometimes if I have more complex legal research to do, I hire a law student, but generally I like to do my own research.
I have been in prisons and courts dozens of times and on death row six times.
It was there, meeting a condemned man and talking to a priest, that I was converted.
Because, before that, I too was in favor of the death penalty.
I read that his wife is a strict editor and that it was she who advised him never to describe sex scenes.
Yes, she reads everything and is always very sharp in her judgments.
Once I wrote a sex scene that I found very erotic, very hot.
She read it and couldn't stop laughing.
It seemed awkward.
He told me to forget about those scenes and I haven't tried again.
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