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American writer of short stories and other literature
George Saunders (born December 2, 1958) is an American writer of short stories, essays, novellas, children's books, and novels. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, McSweeney's, and GQ. He also contributed a weekly column, American Psyche, to the weekend magazine of The Guardian between 2006 and 2008.
In 1988, he was awarded an M.A. in creative writing from Syracuse University; while there, he met Paula Redick, a fellow writer, who would become his wife. Saunders recalled, "we [got] engaged in three weeks, a Syracuse Creative Writing Program record that, I believe, still stands."
From 1989 to 1996, Saunders worked as a technical writer and geophysical engineer for Radian International, an environmental engineering firm in Rochester, New York. He also worked for a time with an oil exploration crew in Sumatra.
Since 1997, Saunders has been on the faculty of Syracuse University, teaching creative writing in the school's MFA program while continuing to publish fiction and non-fiction. In 2006, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and a $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship. He was a Visiting Writer at Wesleyan University and Hope College in 2010 and participated in Wesleyan's Distinguished Writers Series and Hope College's Visiting Writers Series. His non-fiction collection, The Braindead Megaphone, was published in 2007.
Saunders's fiction often focuses on the absurdity of consumerism, corporate culture, and the role of mass media. While many reviewers mention his writing's satirical tone, his work also raises moral and philosophical questions. The tragicomic element in his writing has earned Saunders comparisons to Kurt Vonnegut, whose work has inspired him.
The film rights to CivilWarLand in Bad Decline were purchased by Ben Stiller in the late 1990s; as of 2007[update], the project was in development by Stiller's company, Red Hour Productions. Saunders has also written a feature-length screenplay based on his story "Sea Oak".
In a November 2015 conversation with American writer Jennifer Egan for the New York Times, Saunders said that he was writing a novel set in the 19th century, which while "ostensibly historical" was also closer to science fiction than much of his previous work.
Saunders has won the National Magazine Award for Fiction four times: in 1994, for "The 400-Pound CEO" (published in Harper's); in 1996, for "Bounty" (also published in Harper's); in 2000, for "The Barber's Unhappiness" (published in The New Yorker); and in 2004, for "The Red Bow" (published in Esquire). Saunders won second prize in the 1997 O. Henry Awards for his short story "The Falls", initially published in the January 22, 1996 issue of The New Yorker.
Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, "Found" Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts, edited by David Shields and Matthew Vollmer (2012)
^In the "Author's Note" to the 2012 paperback reprint of CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, Saunders writes about an early story he published in 1986, titled "A Lack of Order in the Floating Object Room," which he (quote): "used it to get into Syracuse. This story was originally published in Northwest Review, Volume 24, Number 2, in 1986."