George Saunders

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For other people named George Saunders, see George Saunders (disambiguation).
George Saunders
George Saunders by David Shankbone.jpg
Born (1958-12-02) December 2, 1958 (age 56)
Amarillo, Texas
Occupation Short story writer, journalist, college professor
Nationality United States

George Saunders (born December 2, 1958) is an American writer of short stories, essays, novellas and children's books. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, McSweeney's and GQ. He also contributed a weekly column, American Psyche, to the weekend magazine of The Guardian until October 2008.

A professor at Syracuse University, Saunders won the National Magazine Award for fiction in 1994, 1996, 2000, and 2004, and second prize in the O. Henry Awards in 1997. His first story collection, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, was a finalist for the 1996 PEN/Hemingway Award. In 2006 Saunders received a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2006 he won the World Fantasy Award for his short story "CommComm".[1] His story collection In Persuasion Nation was a finalist for The Story Prize in 2007. In 2013, he won the PEN/Malamud Award[2] and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Saunders's Tenth of December: Stories won the 2013 Story Prize for short-story collections[3] and the inaugural (2014) Folio Prize.[4][5]

Early life and education[edit]

Saunders was born in Amarillo, Texas. He grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago, graduating from Oak Forest High School in Oak Forest, Illinois. In 1981 Saunders received a B.S. in geophysical engineering from Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. Of his scientific background, Saunders has said, "...any claim I might make to originality in my fiction is really just the result of this odd background: basically, just me working inefficiently, with flawed tools, in a mode I don't have sufficient background to really understand. Like if you put a welder to designing dresses."[6] In 1988, he obtained an M.A. in creative writing from Syracuse University.


From 1989 to 1996, Saunders worked as a technical writer and geophysical engineer for Radian International, an environmental engineering firm in Rochester, New York. He also worked for a time with an oil exploration crew in Sumatra.[7] Since 1997, Saunders has been on the faculty of Syracuse University, teaching creative writing in the school's MFA program while continuing to publish fiction and nonfiction. In 2006, Saunders was awarded a $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship. In the same year he was also awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. He was a Visiting Writer at Wesleyan University and Hope College in 2010 and participated in Wesleyan's Distinguished Writers Series and Hope College's Visiting Writers Series. His nonfiction collection, The Braindead Megaphone, was published in 2007.[8] While promoting The Braindead Megaphone, Saunders appeared on The Colbert Report and the Late Show with David Letterman.[citation needed]

Saunders's fiction often focuses on the absurdity of consumerism, corporate culture and the role of mass media. While many reviewers mention the satirical tone in Saunders's writing, his work also raises moral and philosophical questions. The tragicomic element in his writing has earned Saunders comparisons to Kurt Vonnegut, whose work inspired Saunders.[9]

The film rights to CivilWarLand in Bad Decline were purchased by Ben Stiller in the late 1990s, and as of 2007, the project was in development by Stiller's company, Red Hour Productions.[10] Saunders has also written a feature-length screenplay based on his story "Sea Oak".[11]

Saunders considered himself an Objectivist in his twenties but is now repulsed by the philosophy, comparing it to neoconservative thinking.[12] He is now a student of Nyingma Buddhism.[13]




  • A Bee Stung Me, So I Killed All the Fish (Notes from the Homeland 2003–2006) (2006) (promotional chapbook of essays, limited to 500 copies to accompany the book In Persuasion Nation)
  • The Braindead Megaphone (2007) (collected essays)
  • Congratulations, by the way: Some Thoughts on Kindness (2014)


  • Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, "Found" Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts, edited by David Shields and Matthew Vollmer (2012)


  1. ^ World Fantasy Convention (2010). "Award Winners and Nominees". Retrieved February 4, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Saunders Wins PEN/Malamud Award | Poets and Writers". Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  3. ^ "George Saunders Wins His First Book Award, The Story Prize, for Tenth of December", Larry Dark, official TSP Blog, March 5, 2014
  4. ^ Ron Charles (March 10, 2014). "George Saunders wins $67,000 for first Folio Prize". Washington Post. Retrieved March 11, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Tenth of December by George Saunders wins inaugural Folio Prize 2014" (PDF). Folio Prize. March 10, 2014. Retrieved March 11, 2014. 
  6. ^ Childers, Doug (July 1, 2000). "The Wag Chats with George Saunders". The Wag. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  7. ^ {author} (2013-01-19). "Ayn Rand is for children". Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  8. ^ Saunders on KCRW'S The Bookworm discussing The Braindead Megaphone.
  9. ^ Saunders, George. "God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut". Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  10. ^ Whitney, Joel. "Dig the Hole: An Interview with George Saunders". Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  11. ^ Vollmer, Matthew. ""Knowable in the Smallest Fragment": An Interview with George Saunders". Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  12. ^ Bemis, Alec Hanley (May 10, 2006). "Mean Snacks and Monkey Shit". LA Weekly. pp. 12–27. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  13. ^ "George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You'll Read This Year" by Joel Lovell, The New York Times Magazine, January 3, 2013

External links[edit]