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Publisher's Summary

From the number-one New York Times best-selling author of the Man Booker Prize-winning novel Lincoln in the Bardo and the story collection Tenth of December, a 2013 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.

The breakout book from "the funniest writer in America" - not to mention an official "Genius" - his first nonfiction collection ever. 

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 listener 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.

©2007 George Saunders (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Some novelists seem to make great reporters. Two of the best journalists of the last 50 years are Norman Mailer and David Foster Wallace; their literary nonfiction is jaw-droppingly good, the equal of their fiction. Maybe it's time to add noted short-story writer George Saunders to this short list... Is Saunders' book on target? Hoo boy. [Grade:] A" (Entertainment Weekly)

"Saunders's bitingly clever and compassionate essays are a Mark Twain-syle shot in the arm for Americans, an antidote to the dumbing down virus plaguing our country." (Vanity Fair

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  • caitlyngarofolo
  • 31-05-2020

George Saunders is a genius!

I started by reading one of his many books and now I have read 6 or 7 and I will not stop. He is deeply satirical and you can see his influence by other writers and also see his impact on writers now. It is with such originality and humor he provides the perfect allegory for the deep issues plaguing the modern age, Any and all of his books are a must read for me. He has a remarkable way of tight rope walking the absurd and ridiculous world we live in.

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  • ron_chomp
  • 26-10-2020

Jokes + humanity

This is completely brilliant. Its thoughtful and calm and funny and humane. It’s dumb and profound. Saunders is such a good narrator, and it helps with the self-deprecation. Loved it.

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  • Nancy Freund
  • 08-07-2020

Maybe my favorite Saunders ever

And that’s saying a lot. His fiction is so off-the-charts fabulous, but his essays blow the fiction away. The fact that he does his own audio, including the guitar riff transitions is just another example of why George Saunders is the real deal. Completely genuine and generous. Intelligent and accessible in equal measure. I’d reserve my very highest praise for Saunders, and specifically for this essay collection. If you’re a writer or writing instructor, it’s an absolute must.

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