George Saunders

Bestselling Fiction Writer 
Story Prize & Folio Prize Winner
National Book Award Finalist

“George Saunders is a complete original, unlike anyone else, thank god...There is no one better, no one more essential to our national sense of self and sanity.”—Dave Eggers

W]ith his concise, unorthodox and daring work [Saunders] proves that the true subversives are not those who shout. They are those with the insight and mastery to show us a world that seems hilariously impossible and horrifyingly likely at the same time." —Telegraph

“The best short story writer in English – not ‘one of’, not ‘arguably’, but the Best.”  —Time

The recipient of a 2006 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship ("Genius" Award), George Saunders is the author of four collections of short stories, a novella, and a book of essays. The most recent collection is Tenth of December (Random House, 2013), winner of the 2014 Story Prize for short fiction and 2014 Folio Prize, which celebrates the best fiction of our time. Chair of the Judges for the Folio Prize, Lavinia Greenlaw, said:
“George Saunders’s stories are both artful and profound. Darkly playful, they take us to the edge of some of the most difficult questions of our time and force us to consider what lies behind and beyond them. His subject is the human self under ordinary and extraordinary pressure. His worlds are heightened versions of our own, full of inexorable confrontations from which we are not easily released. Unflinching, delightful, adventurous, compassionate, he is a true original whose work is absolutely of the moment. We have no doubt that these stories will prove only more essential in years to come.” Tenth of December was also nominated for the 2013 National Book Award in Fiction and named one of the ten best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review.

Article on Saunders winning the Folio Prize in The Telegraph

Saunders' other collections include the bestselling Pastoralia, set against a warped, hilarious, and terrifyingly recognizable American landscape; CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, a Finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and In Persuasion Nation, one of three finalists for the 2006 STORY Prize for best short story collection of the year. Pastoralia, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, and Tenth of December were all New York Times Notable Books.

Saunders interview in the NYT about Tenth of December 

Saunders is also the author of the novella-length illustrated fable, The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil, which takes us into a profoundly strange country called Inner Horner, and the New York Times bestselling children's book, The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, illustrated by Lane Smith, which has also won major children’s literature prizes in Italy and the Netherlands. The Boston Globe lauds Saunders’ ability to “construct a story of absurdist satire, then locate within it a moment of searing humanity." Congratulations, by the Way (Random House, 2014) is a book containing the funny yet uplifting graduation speech Saunders gave at Syracuse University.

Read this review of Tenth of December by NPR

Saunders' book of essays, The Braindead Megaphone (2007), received critical acclaim and landed him spots on The Charlie Rose Show, Late Night with David Letterman, and The Colbert Report. Vanity Fair wrote of the book, "Saunders’s bitingly clever and compassionate essays are a Mark Twain-syle shot in the arm for Americans, an antidote to the dumbing down virus plaguing our country. Well, we live in hope.”
 His work appears regularly in The New Yorker, GQ, and Harpers Magazine, and has appeared in the O’Henry, Best American Short Story, Best Non-Required Reading, and Best American Travel Writing anthologies.

In 2001, Saunders was selected by Entertainment Weekly as one of the one hundred top most creative people in entertainment, and by The New Yorker in 2002 and one of the best writers 40 and under.  In 2006, he was awarded both a MacArthur Fellowship, for "bring[ing] to contemporary American fiction a sense of humor, pathos, and literary style all his own," and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2013 TIME Magazine listed Saunders on its list of 100 Most Influential People in the World. He teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Syracuse University. 

About TENTH OF DECEMBER (Stories, 2013)
One of the most important and blazingly original writers of his generation, George Saunders is an undisputed master of the short story, and Tenth of December is his most honest, accessible, and moving collection yet. The unforgettable characters that populate these pages are vividly and lovingly infused with Saunders’s signature blend of exuberant prose, deep humanity, and stylistic innovation. Writing brilliantly and profoundly about class, sex, love, loss, work, despair, and war, Saunders cuts to the core of the contemporary experience. These stories take on the big questions and explore the fault lines of our own morality, delving into the questions of what makes us good and what makes us human. Unsettling, insightful, and hilarious, the stories in Tenth of December—through their manic energy, their focus on what is redeemable in human beings, and their generosity of spirit—not only entertain and delight; they fulfill Chekhov’s dictum that art should “prepare us for tenderness.”


About THE BRAINDEAD MEGAPHONE (Essays, 2007)

The breakout book from "the funniest writer in America." George Saunders's first foray into nonfiction is comprised of essays on literature, travel, and politics. At the core of this unique collection are Saunders's travel essays based on his trips to seek out the mysteries of the "Buddha Boy" of Nepal, to attempt to indulge in the extravagant pleasures of Dubai, and to join the exploits of the minutemen at the Mexican border. Saunders expertly navigates the works of Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, and Esther Forbes, and leads the reader across the rocky political landscape of modern America. Emblazoned with his trademark wit and singular vision, Saunders's endeavor into the art of the essay is testament to his exceptional range and ability as a writer and thinker.

About THE BRIEF AND FRIGHTENING REIGN OF PHIL (Novel, 2005)
In a profoundly strange country called Inner Horner, large enough for only one resident at a time, citizens waiting to enter the country fall under the rule of the power-hungry and tyrannical Phil, setting off a chain of injustice and mass hysteria. An Animal Farm for the twenty-first century, this is an incendiary political satire of unprecedented imagination, spiky humor, and cautionary appreciation for the hysteric in everyone.

George Saunders Land