Typically, when a book is catapulted to the top of best-seller lists as the source material for a multiple-Oscar-nominated film, it’s something for the author to crow about.
Not so for Michael Punke.
A New York Times profile of Punke highlights the 2016 Oscars’ silent success story. Punke, the deputy United States Trade Representative and the U.S. ambassador to the World Trade Organization, also wrote “The Revenant” in 2002, the novel that served as the basis for director Alejandro G. Inarrritu’s film nominated for 12 Academy Awards.
But ethics rule for a federal official like Punke prohibit activities that are “self-enriching” or could be viewed as a possible abuse of his authority, precluding him from granting interviews, firing up a book tour or even signing copies for fans.
Unable to speak to Punke for its profile, the Times got creative.
To capture Punke’s state of mind, the newspaper spoke to his brother, Tim. “He’s bummed he can’t participate as much as he wants to… It’s a dream come true for any writer, so to not be able to fully engage in everything to do with the book is frustrating,” he said in the report.
To learn the origin story of “The Revenant” as a novel, the Times also turned to Punke’s wife, Traci.
And to capture the oddity of Punke being asked to pose for fans’ pictures on the sidelines of a high-powered international trade conference, the newspaper quoted the spokesman for the WTO.