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P.J. O’Rourke and Lionel Shriver on the Battle for the White House

In November 2019, with the U.S. presidential primary campaign in full swing, we were joined by satirist P. J. O’Rourke and bestselling author Lionel Shriver for a night of withering satire, relentless ridicule and sharp political insight.

Video coming soon.

Political satirist P.J. O’Rourke has been described by the Wall Street Journal as ‘the funniest writer in America’. The Observer called him ‘the acceptable face of U.S. Republican arrogance’. He is the author of such bestsellers as Republican Party Reptile and has more citations in The Penguin Dictionary of Humorous Quotations than any other living writer. Lionel Shriver is a bestselling novelist and prolific commentator, known for her uncompromising critiques of the social and political landscape.

In November 2019, they came together to engage in a dissection of the American presidential race. O’Rourke is a lifelong Republican but in 2016 he backed Hillary Clinton, describing her as ‘the second-worst thing that could happen to America’. So who will be his pick for 2020? He has already rubbished the firebrand socialist Bernie Sanders, claiming that ‘Bernie doesn’t know the Berlin Wall fell and doesn’t know he’s still standing on the wrong side of it’, and has described President Trump as a ‘reptile’ and a ‘flying monkey’. And he’s unlikely to hold back when it comes to Biden, Beto, Booker, Buttigieg, Warren, Harris or any of the other Democratic candidates in the race. Shriver, a Democrat, has already denigrated her party’s candidates, saying their extreme left positions will only boost the chances of that ‘blatant idiot’ Trump’s being re-elected, and describing Joe Biden, the supposed ‘safe pair of hands’, as pale, old and tired.



P.J. O’Rourke

Author, journalist and humorist

Author, journalist and humorist, renowned for his political satire. He is the author of 17 books, including Holidays in Hell and Republican Party Reptile, and is a columnist for the Daily Beast, The Atlantic Monthly and The Weekly Standard. His book about the 2016 US presidential race, How the Hell Did This Happen?, was published in March 2017.

Lionel Shriver

Novelist and journalist

Author of twelve novels, including the bestsellers The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 and the Orange-Prize winner We Need to Talk About Kevin (also a 2011 feature film). She won the 2014 BBC National Short Story Award, and her novella and story collection Property was published in 2018. She is a prolific journalist whose writing has appeared in the Guardian, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, amongst other publications.

Razia Iqbal

Journalist and broadcaster

Razia was special correspondent at the BBC for over three decades and from 2011 to 2023 anchored Newshour on the BBC World Service. She is currently teaching at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, where she holds the John L. Weinberg/Goldman Sachs & Co. Visiting Professorship.


Speakers are subject to change.