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George Saunders

35th annual Key West Literary Seminar

Revealing Power: The Literature of Politics
January 12–15, 2017

Of George Saunders, Zadie Smith has said, “Not since Twain has America produced a satirist this funny with a prose style this fine. Saunders is a morally passionate, serious writer, who perfectly expresses the madness of the times we live in. He will be read long after these times have passed.”

In a 2013 conversation with PBS Newshour, Saunders described his approach: “If you want to explore a political idea in the highest possible way, you embody it in the personal, because that’s something that no one can deny.”

His 2013 story collection Tenth of December, a finalist for the National Book Award and recipient of the Folio Prize, was praised widely for its formal invention and named one of the ten best books of the year by the New York Times Book Review. Also in 2013, Saunders was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.

He writes short stories for the New Yorker and travel pieces for GQ, and his work includes the story collections CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award), Pastoralia, and In Persuasion Nation (a finalist for the Story Prize). A transcript of his 2013 convocation address at Syracuse University, where he teaches, was published in book form as Congratulations, by the way: Some Thoughts on Kindness.

Saunders has been featured in Best American Short StoriesBest American Nonrequired ReadingBest American Travel Writing, and Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy anthologies. Named by the New Yorker one of the best American writers under the age of forty in 1999, Saunders has received fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

He was born in Amarillo, Texas, grew up in Chicago, and graduated from the Colorado School of Mines with a degree in exploration geophysics. He has worked as a doorman, a roofer, a convenience store clerk, a slaughterhouse worker, and as a tech writer. Since 1996, he has taught in the Syracuse MFA program, from which he also graduated, and he lives in the Catskills.

Selected Bibliography

Congratulations, by the way (2014)
Tenth of December: Stories (2013)
The Braindead Megaphone: Essays (2007)
In Persuasion Nation (2006)
The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil (2005)
Pastoralia (2000)
The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip (2000)
CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (1996)

Online Resources

George Saunders’ website
NYT Magazine profile of Saunders
Saunders interviewed on NPR
Video: Saunders On Story

 

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