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“One of our most inventive purveyors of the form returns with pitch-perfect, genre-bending stories that stare into the abyss of our national character. . . . An exquisite work from a writer whose reach is galactic.”—Oprah Daily
Booker Prize winner George Saunders returns with his first collection of short stories since the New York Times bestseller Tenth of December.
The “best short-story writer in English” (Time) is back with a masterful collection that explores ideas of power, ethics, and justice and cuts to the very heart of what it means to live in community with our fellow humans. With his trademark prose—wickedly funny, unsentimental, and exquisitely tuned—Saunders continues to challenge and surprise: Here is a collection of prismatic, resonant stories that encompass joy and despair, oppression and revolution, bizarre fantasy and brutal reality.
“Love Letter” is a tender missive from grandfather to grandson, in the midst of a dystopian political situation in the (not too distant, all too believable) future, that reminds us of our obligations to our ideals, ourselves, and one another. “Ghoul” is set in a Hell-themed section of an underground amusement park in Colorado and follows the exploits of a lonely, morally complex character named Brian, who comes to question everything he takes for granted about his reality. In “Mother’s Day,” two women who loved the same man come to an existential reckoning in the middle of a hailstorm. In “Elliott Spencer,” our eighty-nine-year-old protagonist finds himself brainwashed, his memory “scraped”—a victim of a scheme in which poor, vulnerable people are reprogrammed and deployed as political protesters. And “My House”—in a mere seven pages—comes to terms with the haunting nature of unfulfilled dreams and the inevitability of decay.
Together, these nine subversive, profound, and essential stories coalesce into a case for viewing the world with the same generosity and clear-eyed attention Saunders does, even in the most absurd of circumstances.
About the Author
George Saunders is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of eleven books, including A Swim in a Pond in the Rain; Lincoln in the Bardo, which won the Booker Prize; Congratulations, by the Way; Tenth of December, a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the inaugural Folio Award; The Braindead Megaphone; and the critically acclaimed collections CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, Pastoralia, and In Persuasion Nation. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.
“Saunders has revealed himself to be nothing less than an American Gogol: funny, pointed, full of nuance, and always writing with a moral heart. This, his first book of short fiction in nearly a decade, only cements the validity of such a point of view. The nine pieces here are smart and funny, speculative yet at the same time written on a human scale, narratives full of love and loss and longing and the necessity of trying to connect.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Saunders’s vision of diabolically intrusive tyranny undermining democracy possesses the keen absurdity of Kurt Vonnegut, while his more subtle stories align with the gothic edge of Shirley Jackson. . . . Each of these flawless fables inspires reflection on the fragility of freedom and the valor of the human spirit.”—Booklist (starred review)
Praise for George Saunders
“No one writes more powerfully than George Saunders about the lost, the unlucky, the disenfranchised.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“A true artist charting hidden creative territory.”—Colson Whitehead, The New York Times
“Saunders makes you feel as though you are reading fiction for the first time.”—Khaled Hosseini
“One of the most gifted, wickedly entertaining story writers around.”—New York Times Book Review
“Subversive, hilarious, and emotionally piercing: Few writers can encompass that range of adjectives, but Saunders is a true original—restlessly inventive, yet deeply humane.”—Jennifer Egan
“The best short-story writer in English—not ‘one of,’ not ‘arguably,’ but the Best.”—Mary Karr, Time
“Saunders is a gentle giant in American letters whose fiction frequently champions the downtrodden and satirizes a society rife with economic inequality.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Nothing has been read its last rites more frequently than the American short story. George Saunders proves, yet again, to be the form’s one-man defibrillator.”—Harper’s Magazine
“A master of contemporary fiction.”—Kirkus Reviews