Barak Obama has run the race, and not only do we have the first black president in the White House, we also have a writer. I read his Dreams From My Father when I was in the States in 1994 and I was absolutely blown away by it, both by the story and the quality of the writing. When I returned to Europe, I had to ditch some of my books to keep my luggage weight down, I wish I had held onto that one.

Of course, what really struck accord at that time was Obama's descriptions of community organising in Chicago, since I was also working in the voluntary sector. I felt a kindred spirit in this person with high ideals of harmony between peoples and justice getting buffeted by the realities of communities which don't want to be organised and individuals who are too scared or angry or worn out to take any opportunity offered to them. I remember particularly his portrait of a sparsely attended meeting in a big old community hall being completely dominated by one old lady chewing over the American equivalent of how dreadful it is that some people leave their wheelie bins out.

I have pondered whether writers write because they see the world in a different way or whether they experience the world differently because they write. I now ask myself what will be the effect of having a writer in the White House?