Saunders’s Kafkaesque tales of humiliation, complicity, and dehumanization had struck an exposed nerve in the era of pervasive surveillance, smartphones, and bitter irony. But I wasn’t prepared for how moving several of the stories in this volume were — and how indelibly they’ve stayed in my mind.
Our own Edan Lepucki interviewed National Book Award finalists George Saunders and Rachel Kushner for the National Book Foundation. Saunders discussed money issues in his writing. “Now I feel like paucity vs. grace is one of the great American issues—we all live with it every day.” Kushner explained her writing process. “The sentences are beads on a string; I see each one as essential.”
And so, a prediction, and my heartfelt wish for you: as you get older, your self will diminish and you will grow in love. YOU will gradually be replaced by LOVE. If you have kids, that will be a huge moment in your process of self-diminishment. You really won’t care what happens to YOU, as long as they benefit. That’s one reason your parents are so proud and happy today. One of their fondest dreams has come true: you have accomplished something difficult and tangible that has enlarged you as a person and will make your life better, from here on in, forever.
Looking for a new literary podcast to fill your downtime? David Naimon’s “Between the Covers” author interview series may do the trick. The series, which appears regularly on Portland, Oregon’s KBOO 90.7 FM, is available for free on iTunes. Past guests have included Karen Russell, George Saunders, China Miéville and Junot Díaz. Forthcoming episodes will feature the likes of NoViolet Bulawayo and Jami Attenberg.
"The hype surrounding George Saunders’s Tenth of December in the early days of the calendar year was kind of staggering. The backlash followed not long afterwards, when it was suggested that someone who can’t seem to accrue enough pages to pen the Great American Novel couldn’t actually be considered the writer of our time. This makes me cringe — maybe because I’m beginning to suspect that it’s true.”