Author of the week
J.D. Vance didn’t set out to write a book about why America voted Trump—“but that’s essentially what he did,” said Alan Johnson in the Columbus, Ohio, Dispatch. Hillbilly Elegy, Vance’s bestselling memoir about growing up in a dying steel town in a dysfunctional Appalachian family, was embraced by the national media even before Election Day as a field guide to Trumpland. Now that the results are in, Vance is sounding an alarm about the cultural divide exposed by the vote distribution—while offering an intriguing potential solution, said Nate Hopper in Time. The Yale-educated former Marine argues that people who have, like him, “escaped” dying communities and found success on the coasts need to consider returning home.
“Our country would really benefit,” he says, “if those who went to elite universities, who started businesses, who started nonprofits, weren’t just doing so on the coasts. People should be encouraged to go back to so-called middle America.” Not that Vance is suggesting responsibility for the cultural schism belongs solely with coastal elites. “The reconciliation that I hope will happen can’t just happen in one direction,” he says. But because he thinks it unlikely that a poor ex–coal miner could make a fresh start in, say, San Jose, the coastal dwellers will have to lead Vance’s hoped-for migration. The 32-year-old, who writes for National Review and works at a Bay Area venture capital firm, has announced no plan to move back to central Ohio himself. But he is exploring creating an education-oriented nonprofit there. “I’m looking,” he says, “for opportunities to contribute.”