This week, we bring you the second of two shows we’d recorded live at Wordstock, Portland’s book festival. It’s sparkling hour with three witty truth-tellers. But first, we wanted to check in: how’re you feeling after the election.


Screenshot of Portland hip-hop artist Aminé as he performed on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" on Nov. 15, 2016.

Screenshot of Portland hip-hop artist Aminé as he performed on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” on Nov. 15, 2016.

Artists Respond to Trump

Portland hip-hop sensation Aminé hit the stage of “The Tonight Show” Tuesday, adding some politics to his viral song “Caroline”:

“You can never make American great again / All you did is make this country hate again.”

His voice joined the chorus of artists protesting in the streets, making visual art about the election, and other kinds of work. In fact, many Oregon artists are rethinking what their work has to say in a divisive political season. We check in with a few of them.


"I moved to Seattle and was frankly shocked at the lack of a sense of humor I found in almost all the residents," Maria Semple told April Baer at Wordstock. Consider Semple's books, like "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" a shot of humor in the city's collective arm, then.

“I moved to Seattle and was frankly shocked at the lack of a sense of humor I found in almost all the residents,” Maria Semple told April Baer at Wordstock. Consider Semple’s books, like “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” a shot of humor in the city’s collective arm, then.

Roxy De La Torre/OPB

Maria Semple - 6:40

The world of Maria Semple‘s imagination is a glowing place. Her characters rocket off on madcap adventures; they collide at high speed; they teeter on the edge of emotional cliffhangers. Some passages crackle with the comedic snap she honed writing for TV shows like “Arrested Development” and “Mad About You,” but at the center of her stories are quiet emotional truths. Semple’s last novel was the New York Times best-seller “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” —  a merry chase on the trail of a formidable heroine. This year she’s back with another kind of caper, “Today Will Be Different.”


Alexander Chee told Aaron Scott that most the operatic escapades in "Queen of the Night" are firmly grounded in the gossip and excesses of the times.

Alexander Chee told Aaron Scott that most the operatic escapades in “Queen of the Night” are firmly grounded in the gossip and excesses of the times.

Roxy De La Torre

Alexander Chee - 21:28

Alexander Chee’s new book, “The Queen of the Night,” is a waltz through a kaleidoscopic 19th-century world of opera, romance and intrigue that the New York Times called a “post modern bodice ripper.” It follow the journey of a 19th-century American girl from a circus to a brothel to the service of France’s empress to the glamorous life of a star soprano. Chee tells us how he interwove his own characters with historic giants of France’s Second Empire, like Verdi, famous courtesans and the Emperor Napoleon the Third, as well as his own journey from boy soprano to novelist.


"I don't know if I call myself a gay man anymore," says Rabih Alameddine. "I'm creating a new sexual and political identity: I'm grumpy."

“I don’t know if I call myself a gay man anymore,” says Rabih Alameddine. “I’m creating a new sexual and political identity: I’m grumpy.”

Roxy De La Torre

Rabih Alameddine - 34:48

Rabih Alameddine possesses the kind of multifaceted mind we all aspire to. His career has spanned engineering, painting and writing, and his six books keenly bridge the Middle East and the West, religion and sexuality, history and pop culture. In “The Angel of History,” Alameddine mixes many different currents to tell the story of a young Yemini-born gay man who weathers San Francisco’s AIDS epidemic through an unusual relationship with Satan and a gaggle of saints. Alameddine talks about the gray areas between good and evil, Satan as a protagonist and the importance of remembering the past, particularly the hardest moments, in order to move into the future.