Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  George Saunders  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1958 in Amirillo, Texas

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Illinois Connection

Saunders grew up near Chicago and graduated from Oak Forest High School in Oak Forest.

Biographical and Professional Information

George Saunders is the author of eight books, including the story collections Pastoralia and Tenth of December, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. He has received fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2006 he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2013 he was awarded the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction and was included in Time’s list of the one hundred most influential people in the world. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.

Published Works

  • CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, Riverhead Trade, 1997
  • Pastoralia, Riverhead Trade, 2001
  • The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, Villard Books, 2000
  • The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil, Riverhead Trade, 2005
  • In Persuasion Nation, Riverhead Trade, 2007
  • The Braindead Megaphone, Riverhead Trade, 2007
  • Tenth of December, Random House, 2014
  • Lincoln in the Bardo, Random House, 2017

Selected Titles At Your Library

CivilWarLand in bad decline :
ISBN: 1573225797. OCLC Number:

Random House,. New York :. ©1996.

A novella and short stories on a future America, a land of corporate hypocrisy, violence and pollution. Trendy attractions include pickled babies and cows with plexiglass sides, so you can see the milk made, people buy other people's more interesting memories for downloading into their heads.

Pastoralia :
ISBN: 1573228729. OCLC Number:

. .

If Americans in the future were to try to send us a message about where our culture is heading, they might simply point to the fiction of George Saunders. Living in a world that's both indelibly original and hauntingly familiar, the characters in these stories bring to life our most absurd tendencies, and allow us to see ourselves in a shocking, uproariously funny new light.

The brief and frightening reign of Phil /
ISBN: 1594481520. OCLC Number:

Riverhead Books,. New York :. 2005.

Welcome to Inner Horner a country so small it can only accommodate one person at a time, while six other persons must wait their turn to get in. When Inner Horner shrinks even more their neighbor country declares an invasion.

In persuasion nation :
ISBN: 159448242X. OCLC Number:

Riverhead Books,. New York :. 2006.

This new collection of stories--his best work yet--comes from the acclaimed and mind-bendingly hilarious George Saunders.

The braindead megaphone :
ISBN: 159448256X. OCLC Number:

Riverhead Books,. New York :. 2007.

George Saunders's first foray into nonfiction is comprised of essays on literature, travel, and politics. At the core of this unique collection are Saunders's travel essays based on his trips to seek out the mysteries of the "Buddha Boy" of Nepal; to attempt to indulge in the extravagant pleasures of Dubai; and to join the exploits of the minutemen at the Mexican border. Saunders expertly navigates the works of Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, and Esther Forbes, and leads the reader across the rocky political landscape of modern America. Emblazoned with his trademark wit and singular vision, Saunders's endeavor into the art of the essay is testament to his exceptional range and ability as a writer and thinker.

Tenth of December :
ISBN: 0812984250. OCLC Number:

. .

A collection of stories which includes "Home," a wryly whimsical account of a soldier's return from war; "Victory lap," a tale about an inventive abduction attempt; and the title story, in which a suicidal cancer patient saves the life of a young misfit.

Lincoln in the Bardo :
ISBN: 0812985400. OCLC Number:

. .

"February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln's beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. "My poor boy, he was too good for this earth," the president says at the time. "God has called him home." Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns, alone, to the crypt several times to hold his boy's body. From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins a story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its historical framework into a supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state -- called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo -- a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie's soul. Lincoln in the Bardo is an astonishing feat of imagination and a bold step forward from one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Formally daring, generous in spirit, deeply concerned with matters of the heart, it is a testament to fiction's ability to speak honestly and powerfully to the things that really matter to us. Saunders has invented a thrilling new form that deploys a kaleidoscopic, theatrical panorama of voices to ask a timeless, profound question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end?"--Publisher's description.



  • MacArthur Fellowship
  • Guggenheim Fellowship
  • Lannan Fellowship
  • O'Henry Man Booker Prize
  • Tenth of December

  • BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR, People, The New York Times Magazine, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, New York, The Telegraph, BuzzFeed, Kirkus Reviews, BookPage, Shelf Awareness
  • Lincoln in the Bardo

  • Ten Best Books of the Year by The Washington Post, USA Today, and Maureen Corrigan, NPR
  • Top Ten Best Novels of the Year, Time, Top Ten Notable Books, New York Times
  • The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil

  • Starred Review, Kirkus
  • CivilWarLand in Bad Decline

  • Notable Book, New York Times

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)