George Saunders

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
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 58)
Amarillo, Texas
Occupation Writer, journalist, college professor
Education M.A. (1988)
Alma mater Syracuse University
Period 1986 – present [n 1]
Genres Short story, essay, novel
Notable works CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, Tenth of December
Notable awards PEN/Malamud Award, Folio Prize, MacArthur Fellowship
Spouse Paula Redick[1]
Children Caitlin (daughter), Alena (daughter) [2]

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".[3] His story collection In Persuasion Nation was a finalist for The Story Prize in 2007. In 2013, he won the PEN/Malamud Award[4] and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Saunders's Tenth of December: Stories won the 2013 Story Prize for short-story collections[5] and the inaugural (2014) Folio Prize.[6][7]

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."[8] In 1988, he was awarded an M.A. in creative writing from Syracuse University. While at Syracuse he met fellow writer and future wife Paula Redick; "we [got] engaged in three weeks, a Syracuse Creative Writing Program record that, I believe, still stands," Saunders has written.[1]


Background and work[edit]

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.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11]

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.[12] Saunders has also written a feature-length screenplay based on his story "Sea Oak".[13]

In a November 2015 conversation with American writer Jennifer Egan for the New York Times, Saunders said that he was writing a novel set in the 19th century, which while "ostensibly historical" was also closer to science fiction than much of his previous work.[14]

Saunders considered himself an Objectivist in his twenties but is now repulsed by the philosophy, comparing it to neoconservative thinking.[15] He is now a student of Nyingma Buddhism.[2]


Saunders won the National Magazine Award for fiction in 1994 (for his short story "The 400-Pound CEO", published in Harper's Magazine), 1996 (for his short story "Bounty", published in Harper's Magazine), 2000 (for his short story "The Barber's Unhappiness", published in The New Yorker), and 2004 (for his short story "The Red Bow", published in Esquire).[16]

Saunders won second prize in the 1997 O. Henry Awards for his short story "The Falls", initially published in the January 22, 1996 issue of The New Yorker.[17][18]

Saunders's first short-story collection, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, was a finalist for the 1996 PEN/Hemingway Award.[19]

In 2001, Saunders received an Lannan Literary Fellowship in Fiction from the Lannan Foundation.[20] In 2006, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation.[21] Also in 2006, Saunders received a MacArthur Fellowship.[22] In 2009, Saunders received an Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.[23] In 2014, Saunders was elected to the Academy of Arts and Sciences.[24]

In 2006, he won the World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story for his short story "CommComm", which was initially published in the August 1, 2005 issue of The New Yorker.[25][3]

His short-story collection In Persuasion Nation was a finalist for The Story Prize in 2006.[26]

In 2013, Saunders won the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story.[27]

His short-story collection Tenth of December won the 2013 Story Prize for short-story collections.[5] The collection also won the inaugural Folio Prize in 2014, the "first major English language book prize open to writers from around the world."[6][28][29][7] The collection was also a finalist for the National Book Award[30] and was named one of the "10 Best Books of 2013" by the editors of the New York Times Book Review.[31] In a January 2013 cover story The New York Times Magazine called Tenth of December "the best book you'll read this year."[32] One of the stories from the collection, "Home," was also a 2011 Bram Stoker Award finalist.[33]





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

Awards and honors[edit]

Awards won[edit]

Finalist honors[edit]


  1. ^ In the "Author's Note" to the 2012 paperback reprint of CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, Saunders writes about an early story he published in 1986, titled “A Lack of Order in the Floating Object Room,” which he (quote): "used it to get into Syracuse. This story was originally published in Northwest Review, Volume 24, Number 2, in 1986."


  1. ^ a b Saunders, George. "My Writing Education: A Time Line". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2015-10-26. 
  2. ^ a b Lovell, Joel (January 3, 2013). "George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You'll Read This Year". The New York Times Magazine. The New York Times. 
  3. ^ a b World Fantasy Convention (2010). "Award Winners and Nominees". Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved February 4, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Saunders Wins PEN/Malamud Award | Poets and Writers". Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  5. ^ a b "George Saunders Wins His First Book Award, The Story Prize, for Tenth of December", Larry Dark, official TSP Blog, March 5, 2014
  6. ^ a b Ron Charles (March 10, 2014). "George Saunders wins $67,000 for first Folio Prize". Washington Post. Retrieved March 11, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Tenth of December by George Saunders wins inaugural Folio Prize 2014" (PDF). Folio Prize. March 10, 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 11, 2014. Retrieved March 11, 2014. 
  8. ^ Childers, Doug (July 1, 2000). "The Wag Chats with George Saunders". The Wag. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  9. ^ "Ayn Rand is for children". 2013-01-19. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  10. ^ Saunders on KCRW'S The Bookworm discussing The Braindead Megaphone.
  11. ^ Saunders, George. "God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut". Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  12. ^ Whitney, Joel. "Dig the Hole: An Interview with George Saunders". Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  13. ^ Vollmer, Matthew. ""Knowable in the Smallest Fragment": An Interview with George Saunders". Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  14. ^ a b "Choose Your Own Adventure: A Conversation With Jennifer Egan and George Saunders". The New York Times. November 15, 2015. 
  15. ^ Bemis, Alec Hanley (May 10, 2006). "Mean Snacks and Monkey Shit". LA Weekly. pp. 12–27. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  16. ^ "Winners and Finalists Database - ASME". 
  17. ^ "The Falls". 
  18. ^ "The O. Henry Prize Stories". 
  19. ^ "George Saunders". 
  20. ^ Clark, Judi. "George Saunders - Lannan Foundation". 
  21. ^ "John Simon Guggenheim Foundation - George Saunders". 
  22. ^ "George Saunders — MacArthur Foundation". 
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Press Releases - American Academy of Arts & Sciences". 
  25. ^ "Commcomm". The New Yorker. 
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ "The 2014 Folio Prize Shortlist is Announced". Folio Prize. 10 February 2014. Retrieved February 13, 2014. 
  29. ^ Wood, Gaby (10 February 2014). "Folio Prize 2013: The Americans are coming, but not the ones we were expecting". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved February 13, 2014. 
  30. ^ "2013 National Book Award". 
  31. ^ "The 10 Best Books of 2013". New York Times. 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  32. ^ "George Saunders Just Wrote The Best Book You'll Read This Year". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved 1 February 2013.  Lovell, Joel
  33. ^ "Bram Stoker Award 2011 Nominees". Locus Magazine. 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 

External links[edit]