George Saunders

George Saunders books and biography


George Saunders

Born: December 2, 1958
Occupation: short story writer, journalist, teacher
Nationality: United States
Debut works: CivilWarLand In Bad Decline
Influences: Kurt Vonnegut

George Saunders (born December 2, 1958) is an acclaimed American writer of short stories. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, and GQ, among others. He also contributes a weekly column, American Psyche, to the weekend magazine of The Guardian's Saturday edition. Currently a professor at Syracuse University, he won the National Magazine Award for fiction in 1994, 1996, 2000, and 2004 and second prize in the O. Henry Awards in 1997.



Saunders was born in Amarillo, Texas, and raised on the south side of Chicago. In 1981, he received a B.S. in geophysical engineering from Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. Speaking of his scientific background, Saunders 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."[1] In 1988, he obtained an M.A. in creative writing from Syracuse University. As a young man in the 1980s Saunders considered himself an Objectivist, but is now repulsed by the philosophy, comparing it to neoconservative thinking.[2] From 1989 to 1996 he worked for Radian International, an environmental engineering firm in Rochester, New York as a technical writer and geophysical engineer. He also worked for a time in Sumatra with an oil exploration crew. Since 1997, Saunders has been on the faculty of Syracuse University, teaching creative writing in the school's MFA program. In 2006, Saunders was awarded a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, commonly called a "genius grant". In the same year he was also awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Saunders currently resides in Syracuse, New York. He is married with two daughters. His forthcoming book, a collection of recent non-fiction entitled The Braindead Megaphone, will be published in September 2007.

Themes in Saunders' writing

Saunders' fiction often focuses on the absurdity of consumerism and corporate culture. While many reviewers are quick to mention the satirical tone in most of Saunders' writing, many of these same works also deal with philosophical questions of morality. The tragicomic element, concurrently devastating and wildly funny, has earned Saunders comparisons to Kurt Vonnegut, a writer to whom Saunders has acknowledged a debt.[3]

Film adaptations

The film rights to CivilWarLand in Bad Decline were purchased by Ben Stiller in the late 1990s and a film has been rumored to be in the works for several years now, to be produced by Stiller's company, Red Hour Productions.[4] Saunders has also written a feature-length screenplay for one of his stories from Pastoralia, "Sea Oak".[5]


  • CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (1996) (short story collection)
  • Pastoralia (2000) (short story collection)
  • The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip (2000) (fable)
  • The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil (2005) (novella)
  • In Persuasion Nation (2006) (short story collection)
  • The Braindead Megaphone (2007) (forthcoming non-fiction collection)


  1. ^ Childers, Doug. "The Wag Chats with George Saunders", The Wag, 2000-07-01. Retrieved on 2007-06-04. 
  2. ^ Bemis, Alec Hanley. "Mean Snacks and Monkey Shit", LA Weekly, 2006-05-10, pp. 12–27. Retrieved on 2007-06-04. 
  3. ^ Saunders, George. God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut. Retrieved on 2007-06-04.
  4. ^ Whitney, Joel. Dig the Hole: An Interview with George Saunders. Retrieved on 2007-06-01.
  5. ^ Vollmer, Matthew. "Knowable in the Smallest Fragment": An Interview with George Saunders. Retrieved on 2007-06-01.

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By George Saunders
Short Stories

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