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Obama, Rumsfeld books set for winter release

Simon & Schuster unveiled the cover for O: A Presidential Novel, an anonymously authored novel about U.S. president Barack Obama. The cover features a gold “O” bookended by a pair of protruding ears against a blue background.

Set during the 2012 presidential election, the book is described by The Washington Post as:

a novel about aspiration and delusion […] written by an anonymous author who has spent years observing politics and the fraught relationship between public image and self-regard. The novel includes revealing and insightful portraits of many prominent figures in the political world – some invented and some real.

There’s been a flurry of speculation about the identity of the author, someone Simon & Schuster says “has been in the room with Barack Obama and wishes to remain anonymous.”

A blogger at the Wall Street Journal points out the futility of such conjecture:

In addition to the 469 employees of the White House, the president had 616 visitors there in December 2010 alone, according to records released by the administration.

And since we don’t know that this room is the Oval Office, we should probably also include everyone who’s attended a party or town hall or fund-raiser or campaign trail event also attended by Mr. Obama, plus his classmates, students and colleagues over the years.

O isn’t the only work of fiction inspired by American political figures published this winter. Donald by Eric Martin and Stephen Elliott is a novel that publisher McSweeney’s says imagines what would happen if former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld “was abducted at night from his Maryland home, held without charges in his own prison system, denied a trial, and kept in a place where no one could find him, beyond the reach of the law.”

The novel is set for release Feb. 8, the same day Rumsfeld’s official autobiography, Known and Unknown, is launched by Sentinel. By no coincidence, the covers of both books are similar — though only one features Rumsfeld in an orange jumpsuit.