Thursday, June 3, 2010
Born December 2, 1958 (1958-12-02) (age 51)
Occupation Short story writer, Journalist, College Professor
Nationality United States
Kurt Vonnegut, John Steinbeck, John Updike
George Saunders (born December 2, 1958) is a New York Times bestselling 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, among others. He also contributed a weekly column, American Psyche, to the weekend magazine of The Guardian’s Saturday edition until October, 2008. 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. His first story collection, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline was a finalist for the 1996 PEN/Hemingway Award. In 2006, Saunders received one of that year's MacArthur Fellowships, more popularly known as the "genius grant". His story collection In Persuasion Nation was a finalist for The Story Prize in 2007.
Early life and education
Saunders was born in Amarillo, Texas and raised on the south side of Chicago. He is a graduate of Oak Forest High School, located in Oak Forest, Illinois, a south suburb 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." In 1988, he obtained an M.A. in creative writing from Syracuse University.
Career as author
In his twenties, Saunders considered himself an Objectivist, but is now repulsed by the philosophy, comparing it to neoconservative thinking. 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 and has two daughters. He was a Visiting Writer at Wesleyan University and Hope College in 2010, and participated in Wesleyan's Distinguished Writers Series and Hope's Visiting Writers Series. His most recent book, a collection of recent non-fiction entitled The Braindead Megaphone, was published on September 4, 2007.While promoting The Braindead Megaphone, Saunders appeared on The Colbert Report and Late Night with David Letterman.
Saunders' fiction often focuses on the absurdity of consumerism and corporate culture and the role of the mass media. 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.
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. Saunders has also written a feature-length screenplay for one of his stories from Pastoralia, 'Sea Oak'.
* CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (1996) (short stories and a novella)
* Pastoralia (2000) (short stories and a novella)
* The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip (2000) (novella with illustrations by Lane Smith (illustrator)) (New York Times bestseller)
* The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil (2005) (novella)
* In Persuasion Nation (2006) (short stories)
* A Bee Stung Me, So I Killed the Fish (2006) (promotional chapbook of essays, limited to 500 copies)
* The Braindead Megaphone (2007) (collected essays)
This is the official fan page;
A fabulous essay on homelessness in GQ.