Syracuse University

George Saunders

George Saunders G’88
is the author of the short story collections CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, Pastoralia, In Persuasion Nation, and, most recently, Tenth of December, which spent 15 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. CivilWarLand in Bad Decline was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. In Persuasion Nation was a finalist for the 2006 STORY Prize for best short story collection of the year. Saunders is also the author of the novella-length illustrated fable, The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil; The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, illustrated by Lane Smith, which has won major children’s literature prizes in Italy and the Netherlands; and a book of essays, The Braindead Megaphone.

Saunders received a B.S. degree in geophysical engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in 1981, and spent the next few years working various jobs. In 1985, he returned to college, and received an M.A. degree in English, with an emphasis in creative writing from Syracuse University, where he studied fiction with Tobias Wolff and Douglas Unger. He completed his first book, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, during the eight years he spent working as a technical writer for Radian Corporation, in Rochester, New York. He teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Syracuse University.

His work appears regularly in The New Yorker, GQ, and Harpers Magazine, and has been featured in several anthologies, including the O’Henry, Best American Short Story; Best Non-Required Reading; and Best American Travel Writing. In support of his books, he has appeared on The Charlie Rose Show, Late Night with David Letterman, and The Colbert Report.

Writing for GQ, he has traveled to Africa with Bill Clinton, reported on Nepal’s “Buddha Boy” (who is said to have gone without food or water for six months), driven the length of the Mexican border, spent a week in the theme hotels of Dubai, and lived incognito in a homeless tent city in Fresno, California.

In 2001, Saunders was selected by Entertainment Weekly as one of the 100 most creative people in entertainment, and by The New Yorker in 2002 as one of the best writers 40 and under. In 2006, he was awarded both a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2009, he received an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2013, he received the PEN/Malamud Award for excellence in the short story form, and was chosen as one of the “Time 100,” Time magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.