George Saunders is a decorated American writer who has written numerous short stories, novellas, novels as well as children’s books. He was a regular columnist for ‘The Guardian’ in the late-2000s, writing the weekly column ‘American Psyche’. He is very popular for his short stories and has released many collections of such stories. He received the 2014 Folio Prize for his collection of short stories titled ‘Tenth of December: Stories’. Saunders had received many accolades before he won the Booker Prize for Fiction in 2017 for his novel ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’. Apart from writing novels and short stories, Saunders has also excelled in writing for kids. He has written many books for children and has been published in popular kids’ magazines. Saunders’ writings have also been featured in ‘GQ,’ ‘The New Yorkers,’ and ‘Harper's Magazine.’ Besides writing, he has also taught at Syracuse University in New York. He taught creative writing and has been credited for bringing in a fresh approach to teaching the subject.
Childhood & Early Life
George Saunders was born on December 2, 1958, in Amarillo, Texas. He grew up around Chicago and attended the Oak Forest High School in Oak Forest, from where he graduated. He then studied geophysical engineering at Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado.
Saunders went to Syracuse University where he received a Master of Arts degree in creative writing. Saunders taught the same subject to the students of the institute a few years later.
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George Saunders worked for the firm Radian International as a geophysical engineer and a technical writer before joining Syracuse University as a faculty member. He taught the students creative writing.
Saunders started writing fictional stories while teaching at Syracuse University. Many of his stories were published regularly. He started writing novellas, a shorter version of novels, during the mid-1990s.
His book ‘CivilWarLand in Bad Decline’, a collection of short stories and novellas, was published in 1996. He was one of the shortlisted finalists for PEN/Hemingway Award in the same year.
In 2000, another popular book of his, titled ‘Pastoralia’, containing short stories and novellas, was published. In 2006, his book ‘In Persuasion Nation’, a collection of short stories, was published and it was shortlisted for The Story Prize.
George Saunders published his most popular work, the book ‘Tenth of December: Stories’ (a short story collection) in 2013. It was nominated for multiple awards. The book earned him a place in the final shortlist for the National Book Award for Fiction in 2014. The book was also selected by ‘The New York Times Book Review’ as one of the top 10 books of 2013.
George Saunders wrote an experimental novel, ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’, in 2017. This marked the first time Saunders wrote a full-length book. The 368-page book became a huge success for the writer. The novel was listed as a bestseller by ‘USA Today’ and ‘The New York Times.’
Apart from these popular works, George Saunders has also written many other short novellas and books of short stories like ‘The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip’, ‘Four Institutional Monologues’, ‘The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil’, and ‘A Two-Minute Note to the Future’.
The book ‘Tenth of December: Stories’ is one of Saunders’s most popular works. He won the Story Prize and the Folio Prize in 2013 and 2014, respectively. The book made it to the top five of The New York Times Hardcover Fiction Bestselling List and was labelled as the best book of 2013 by ‘The New York Times Magazine.’
George Saunders won the 2017 Man Booker Prize for his admirable writing in the novel ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’. The book received a total of 42 reviews on the review aggregator Bookmarks, with only three mixed reviews and 39 rave reviews. It was regarded as a masterpiece from Saunders and was praised by almost every critic.
Family & Personal Life
George Saunders is married to Paula Redick and has two daughters, Caitlin and Alena, with her.
Saunders holds a MacArthur Fellowship and Guggenheim Fellowship, which he received in 2006. In 2018, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters as a member.