Life and Work

A Conversation with George Saunders

June 24, 2024

In Life and Work, Sam speaks with author George Saunders about his creative process. They discuss George’s involvement with Buddhism, the importance of kindness, psychedelics, writing as a practice, the work of Raymond Carver, the problem of social media, our current political moment, the role of fame in American culture, Wendell Berry, fiction as way of exploring good and evil, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, missed opportunities in ordinary life, what it means to be a more loving person, his article “The Incredible Buddha Boy,” the prison of reputation, Tolstoy, and other topics.

George Saunders, born in Amarillo, Texas, raised in Chicago, is the author of twelve books, including Lincoln in the Bardo, which won the 2017 Man Booker Prize for the best work of fiction in English, and Tenth of December, a finalist for the National Book Award. He is also the author of A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, a book about the Russian short story. In 2013, he was named one of the world’s 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. He has taught, since 1997, in the Creative Writing Program at Syracuse University.